Confirmation of What We’ve Been Saying

When I sat down to write this morning’s post, I already had an idea in mind. But, because I hadn’t inhaled enough coffee to be fully awake, I checked a couple of sites to see if anything jumped out at me. The very first site I looked at linked back to a post by Kris Rusch, one I suggest everyone here take time to read.

Yesterday, I finished the final edits for A Magical Portent. As I’ve noted here and on my personal blog, I hadn’t set out to write this novella, at least not at this time. But it was something my muse demanded. What I haven’t talked about much is it also fit my personal business plan of starting to put our more work at a faster interval.

The key has been finding a way to do so without sacrificing story, quality or editing. Fortunately for this particular title, not only did it basially write itself–which means it was a quick write–I knew going in it was going to be a short work. It is much easier to push out a 30-40k word work than it is an 80-100k word work. Also, one of my final readers/editors was able to fit me into his schedule after having to take time off.

But one thing had been pecking at me as I set my updated publishing schedule. Why this sudden desire to increase my release time? Trying to stick to a new title every 3 months can be trying enough. Life happens. Hell, Covid happened. Did I really want to push it to a shorter window of opportunity?

The answer was yes. My gut told me it’s necessary. My numbers seemed to confirm it when I’ve published titles closer together before. Still, was I opening myself to a headache I didn’t want or need?

The answer is no and Kris explains it a great deal better than I can. In fact, she confirmed everything my gut and my subconscious had been telling me.

Covid-19 is doing a hatchet job on traditional publishing on a number of different fronts. Everything from the office end (editing, page composition, etc) to publishing to distribution. Then entire process is, basically, fucked right now and it’s the authors who will be the ones hurt in the short term and possibly the long-term if they can’t adapt and adjust to their changing circumstances. If we don’t see more mergers or bankruptcies coming out of this on the publisher end of things, I’d be surprised.

But what about the indie author?

According to Kris:

We need to continue producing. Consistency is the key for indie writers. Making sure we have a release every six months or a year at minimum. Along with a good static webpage at minimum. . .

But do give your readers a respite from all the noise. Keep your publishing schedule going. Keep your ebook prices low. If your books are similar to an overpriced and underpublished bestseller, then make note of that in your social media postings and maybe in the key words (or whatever that’ll be called next month).

Because I can guarantee this. Readers who want a certain type of book Right Now will try to order their favorite writer’s book, and won’t be able to get it. They’ll balk at the ebook price. They’ll be unable to get the book at the library.

They’re going to want something to read. They’ll be amenable to trying something new but similar.

And that just might be you.

When I read that this morning, I realized that is exactly what I’d been seeing and feeling and trying to respond to. Mind you, I think you must, absolutely must have a new title out every three months at the minimum. No, not every title has to be a full-length novel. After all, A Magical Portent (and Cat’s Paw after it) are novellas. Both come in under 40k words. But both are priced accordingly at $2.99.

As a reader, I find Kris is right about what I’m doing concerning my reading habits. There are very few traditionally published authors I still read–or at least who I actually buy. I might borrow their books from the library. Of those, I’m seeing publishing schedules pushed back. Even when they have a new book come out, I hesitate to pay $14 or $15 for an e-book.

Instead, I go looking for other authors in the same genre. I check the preview chapters. I look at their websites and blogs. I look at recommendations from authors and others I respect and, if it’s an author, whose work I enjoy. I’ve found several new authors that way. It is, as I’ve said before, how I rediscovered Jean Rabe. (Faith Hunter recommended Jean’s work).

Last night, as I entered the last edit into A Magical Portent, I received notice that a book I’d pre-ordered had been delivered. I’ll admit, I had forgotten about the pre-order. But I quickly found myself not only smiling to know I had new reading material, but I was grabbing up my Kindle Oasis and starting on the new book. I looked at it as my reward for having finished my own work.

And, yes, this is a book by an indie author I discovered based on someone’s recommendation.

I guess this has all been a roundabout way of saying a couple of things:

  • if you are a traditionally published author, start looking very hard at your options. That’s especially true if you are new (or newish) with the publisher,
  • If you are an indie author, look at your publishing schedule. Is it where it needs to be? Is there any way for you to keep your level of quality and still do quicker releases?
  • If you are a reader, are you leaving reviews for the books you read? Are you recommending books via your social media outlets? (this is so very important for indie authors because you are our best form of promotion/advertising).

Finally, as I mentioned above, A Magical Portent is finished. I’ll be uploading the final files either today or tomorrow. Once that’s done, everything will be ready for the release of the e-book on Sept. 29th. The print version will be available around that date as well. Here”s the blurb:

Storm clouds gather. An unknown danger nears, one that may spell the end of Mossy Creek, TX, and all those who live there.

Dr. Jax Powell and her best friends, her sisters from other misters, are determined to do whatever it takes to protect their town and loved ones. Each of them, once considered the town’s wayward children, have returned home. All but one: Magdalena “Maddy” Reyes. She’s not refused to return to Mossy Creek, but she appears to have dropped off the face of the Earth—or at least from the streets of London.

Can they find Maddy and save their town or is it already too late?

I had a blast writing the novella and am having to fight the urge to write the next full-length book in the series. Next up is a new Mac Santos novella, one that will help set the scene for the new story arc in the Nocturnal Lives universe, one that will see us visiting familiar characters as well as some new ones. And, yes, Mac is being very loud as she reminds me she’s waited long enough for me to get back to her.

Until later!

Featured Image by Junnifer Baya from Pixabay

48 comments

    1. Jason, it’s not a hard and fast rule, as you know. We all write at different paces and our editors work at different paces. It is one reason why I am mixing shorter works with the longer ones. I can push out a short story or novella in a matter of a week or weeks as opposed to months. It hits the “need to publish more frequently” point without destroying the quality–at least for me (I hope).

        1. Since I have a pretty idea about your success, I’m not going to tell you that. I will, however, as a fan tell you to write faster because I have to wait too long between books. VBG

        2. It depends on how you define success. I’m retired so all my book money is quality of life income. I could live on it if pressed but would rather not. Right now I’m making more than half my book income from KU. It appears from that a lot of people read my books all the way to the end. If I try cranking out more than two a year that may go away.
          Also, My wife works and I do all the shopping and cooking. I take care of the vehicles and help with laundry. If I’m so busy writing I have to hire people to do that I’ll be like people who work to pay for child care. Not to mention sitting all those extra hours at the keyboard will drain the joy out of it.

  1. I’ve been noticing less turn-over on the shelves at B&N. Now, it this because of the annual back-to-school sales slow-down, fewer shipments from publishers (a lot of which seem to be the latest current-event-fiction and social-awareness-statement-fiction), or because B&N is having to pay cash for books, and so they’re cutting orders to cut losses until “sales start to recover?” Or a little of all of the above? No idea.

    I had grand plans for this fall. Life happened. I’m very, very glad I had two books “in the can” that need edits but not writing from scratch. After that? I have no idea. I keep thinking things will steady out, but they are not.

    1. I think it is a combination of all of the above with an emphasis on having to pay cash and few shipments from publishers. As for life happening, I hear you. I’ve had to fight it all year. Fingers crossed things ease for you.

  2. I agree that speed matters. I’m working to achieve it, but it’s hard.

    I read Rusch’s whole post and she pushed a button for me: wide v KU. All my novels are in KU, but I keep toying with the idea of going wide and have started to read up on it. There’s a FB group that strongly makes the point about how you have to market and push when you go wide just like you do with staying exclusive to Amazon.

    1. I’ve tried both. I have never come close to making up the loss in “page reads” income when I go wide. Then I look at the time involved to manually put my titles up on the various platforms vs monies lost when I let a third party do it (not to mention loss of immediate control).

      I have a new series in mind. Well, a spin-off series, of the Eerie Side of the Tracks books. If I get it started, I may go wide with it to see if it gains traction that way.

  3. Too bad KKR can’t get through a business post without veering off into #OrangeManBad.

    Little news flash for Corona worriers, -nobody- believes the Corona hype anymore. That’s because the Super Scientific Authorities of Western nations generally have flip-flopped six times since January, and are saying things like “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was a super-spreader event but endemic rioting in Portland isn’t, and never mind those homeless drug users crapping in the streets.”

    I maintain my Corona vigilance because I’ve seen somebody end up in hospital from it. But as to the rest of society, they’re not buying it.

    Therefore I question the assertion that Corona is screwing up publishers worse than other companies. I think it’s more that their internal systems have been hanging on by a thread for fricking decades, like the Hostess Twinkie company. The last thread is fraying.

    1. There are a LOT of companies that should have already failed that the quarantines and restrictions will tip over the edge. That was going to happen anyway, but I’m convinced in my own mind that they are using the pandemic to pull it all forward in such a way it gets it over with quicker and allows all the fraudulent institutions to blame it on a black swan event instead of systemic malfeasance. The cry being: “Who could have known?”

      1. What amazes me these days is that anybody -ever- makes any money. So many of these companies seem to be sliding along on a layer of self-generated bullshit with no profit in sight, but somehow the doors stay open and they keep sliding for another quarter.

        At a certain point one begins to suspect money laundering or some other nefarious arrangement.

    2. Yeah, her CCP virus side swipe makes me inclined to view everything else she says skeptically. It was unnecessarily and IMHO, ignorant.

    3. There are definitely still people who are worried.

      a) People so ignorant and uncurious that they’ve never had to do anything but take what ‘experts’ tell them on faith.
      b) People who’ve put their egos into their own alleged expertise, don’t have a basis for their self esteem independent of formal credentials, and cannot tolerate a theory of experts being believed that is independent of formal credentials.

      In other words, these are the people who assess “complete adherence by rote to a set of rules proscribed by ‘experts'”, and don’t ask immediately if this can possibly work if the people implementing it aren’t educated and attentive enough to fill in the holes that the experts cannot possibly have the information to avoid.

      People who don’t get that the USSR collapsed under stress because the fundamental design was a bad idea in the first place, and that the current regime of the PRC may be pretty sure to suffer the same fate.

    4. Oddly enough, the kung flu is hurting them worse for the same reason it hurts some people worse– you’re seriously injured by the kung flu if you’re already in a hazardous position, or if it does a freak accident thing and manages to hit you just wrong. (if anybody knows a better way to describe a cytokine storm, go for it)

      They’re already highly vulnerable, and yet keep doing incredibly high risk things, so it’s going to hurt them.

      *********

      Did you catch the actual numbers on that motorcycle rally? Counter the cellphone model, total of one death and fewer than 300 total cases. Out of half a million people, so call it 600 per million.
      Going off of world of meters, there’s 2.5 million active cases in the US, and we have 328 million people, that’s 7.7k per million.
      Or over ten times the rate of the rally, which is already inflating its numbers because that’s both people who went to the rally and their household members who tested positive at any point in the next month.

      1. Compare the Sturgis Bike Week thing to the SAME PERIOD in New York City. Or for that matter, the same period in Toronto Ontario.

        Apples to apples, Sturgis starts to look pretty good.

        But no, the Leftist propagandists (I couldn’t think of a meaner epithet for supposed scientists) doing the study decided they needed to make those redneck racists look BAD. So they pretty much lied about everything. It is CDC-gun-study level of disinformation. The kind of thing that leaves you less informed and dumber for having read it.

        1. Heck, compare it to one of those (gasp!) crazy places that never had a mask mandate, didn’t shut down, and…has below average deaths, nationally… Iowa.
          We’re 3 million, and the slow day positives in the last month are 230-ish, with the post-weekend spikes in the low 1ks. Averaging eight or nine deaths with a positive test a day, though this may include back-dated tests.

    5. This is to basically anyone who is willing to discount Kris’ comments simply because you don’t agree with her politics. Stop. I’m not asking you to agree with her politically. I certainy don’t. But that isn’t what this post is about nor does it decrease her knowledge of the industry.

      1. Fair enough, because full disclosure I know not much about the publishing industry.

        But I notice that while the oil and gas industry (random example) has been -clobbered- since March with reduced sales and lots of sick employees, I can still get gas at the gas station.

        Likewise the meat packing industry, which we know had huge problems with Corona early on, managed to keep meat at the store.

        But publishers can’t deliver stock they have in their warehouses, and can’t get production out to their printers. More than just Corona goin’ on there, is all I’m saying.

        The Hostess Twinkie thing, that’s one of my favorite examples of a moribund and money losing old-line company. Their whole baking and distribution system was utterly broken, and they went under. Some venture capital guy bought it -extremely- cheap, built a new bakery with robotic equipment, built a new distribution system, and after a suitable period to spool it all up you can buy Twinkies again. Same Twinkie, whole new company.

        The guy made all his money back in two years, and now turns an obscene profit.

        That’s going to happen to publishers, is my pie-in-the-sky guess. Somebody will do something with print-on-demand and robot warehouse, create a proper retail book situation like what we used to have, fix the distribution system, and make obscene profit.

        What’s going to happen to authors? We might actually do alright in that scenario. Because when you take all the production crap out of the picture and make it all robotic like Hostess did… somebody still has to write the book.

        1. Phantom, the problem with your assuming trad pub runs like other industries is that it doesn’t. Publishers can deliver stock in the warehouse–assuming they have stock there. A number of publishers actually contract out their distribution and, in some cases, printing. So the stock is at the distro center. And trust me, there are a number of truckers who would love to have the business right ow. Second problem with your assumption is you say they can’t get production to their printers. Why? There is nothing a publisher does that can’t be done from the comfort and “safety” of someone’s home. Indie authors and small presses have been doing it for years and, believe it or not, so have larger publishers. a number of editors, proofreaders, copyrighters, typesetters, etc., are actually independent contractors and work fro home.

          The only real problem publishers have been facing during the last six months is the same one they have faced all along: an over-dependence on brick and mortar stores. Couple that with the refusal to admit e-books are a viable asset and they have shot themselves in the foot.

          1. I was just going by what KKR was saying in her post about no-delivery/late-delivery on pre-orders etc. Missing out on six months of retail sales is an issue for a wide range of goods and services. Imagine the wedding industry!

            I freely admit to not understanding publishing. I don’t understand a lot of things. ~:D

  4. > very few traditionally published authors I still read–or at least who I actually buy

    After I got burned out with SF I spent a couple of decades reading adventure/thriller novels. But somewhere around fifteen years ago I noticed they were all becoming very similar… not just books from a particular author, but from all the authors. Over-editing, using the same ghostwriter pool, whatever. So I quit buying them because they were all the same, so why bother?

    1. Same here. I can count on one hand the number of “must buy when book comes out” traditionally published authors I read now. The rest are either relegated to when the book goes on sale or I don’t read them at all. If I can tell you everything about the book before I finish the first chapter, I don’t keep buying more. shrug.

      1. I generally stop at the first mention of global warming, #ReligionBad, #OrangeManBad, #BLM or overt gender-related ranting. When I was still book shopping I’d go down the row, pick up every likely looking cover, read the blurb, and my hands would be empty at the end of the row.

        Every. Single. Book. PC themes front and center.

        Another customer, gone. How long can they keep going like this? Maybe Corona Chan can answer this year.

        1. I’ve noticed the same thing. The last time i went and checked the shelves at B&N, the new, non-Baen SF/F were all uniformly bland, grey wallpaper paste. Gender play ideas that were old when LeGuin did “The Left Hand Of Darkness.” Thinly-veiled #OrangeManBad. Thinly-veiled and badly done “white men evil” stories. Even more poorly done “global warming will kill us all!!!” stories. Mary Sue characters that I know grumpy, angsty guys that would break them over their knee without stopping (and I don’t even have to leave Pratchett to find them-Granny Weatherwax would sneer and they’d fill their panties at a full run getting away from her). Writing that feels like it was done by formula or Mad Libs.

          I know one of the new “big” authors out of Tor Books (it’s been a few years, mind you) and f(YAY!)king hell, she (MTF transsexual, so she and no pronoun games) scares me. I think if she knew more about me, she would be wanting to round me up to be shipped off to the gay re-education camps working the thick maple syrup veins in northern British Colombia.

          I looked through the recent publication schedule for books next year and I’m going “there’s nothing I want to read there.” Except for a new Richard Morgan sequel to “Thin Air,” there’s nothing there.

          (Really, do we need a sequel to “Ready Player One”? I bought it used and I thought I overpaid for it…)

          Even Baen Books has…three and a half?…titles on the the schedule I’m interested in. Yes, I know that David Weber is probably burned out on Honor Harrington right now and he’s still got Safehold books to write and those make him the most money… But damn it I want more Bahzell books. And, nobody at all is scratching that Honor Harrington itch. David Drake does great books with the RCN series, but I keep hearing fourth-hand of health issues and Christopher Nutall sometimes gets close with his stories, but I get a very shallow feeling or a “running on faith” in how he writes his stories. I know that John Ringo has a lot going on in his life-I would like for him to finish a damned series (Prince Rodger, Troy Rising, Legacy of the Aldenata, a good Paladin of Shadows story) before the entropic heath death of the universe.

          And, quite a few other authors have had the Martian Brain Fungus infection eat out their reason and common sense-Stross, Flint, a few other people…their stuff has gone awful on us.

          This doesn’t mean that I’m happy with quite a few indie book authors, mind you. There’s some that have great ideas and blurbs, but really need a good editor with a stick. (And, if I see another single motherf(YAY!)king ad for terrible soft-core porn harem novels, I’ll drop a a f(YAY!)king bollock. You’re not being original, you’re badly ripping off Rumikno Takihiashi plots at best.)

          Fingers crossed that this six months of encased madness might cause a massive wave of new creative works. Or kill off the old legacy industries so we can have something new. Both would be very nice, but I’ll take one or the other.

          1. You’ll be pleased to know I left all the “soft core” out of my harem novel. ~:D “Bright and early next morning…” is the next line after “C’mere, tough guy!”

            Because sex looks SO dumb when you write it down. I tried, it was dumb, I cut it. All the characters heaved a great sigh of relief.

            1. I’ve read some good-to-great porn in novels. But, it’s like Sturgen’s Law on sterioids-99% of it is scary terrible (and has no concept of human anatomy and sexual desire response).

              (I also had to be very careful about everything but one scene in Solist At Large to keep it at a PG-13/second base level. Mostly because the protagonist is (technically) fifteen.)

            1. I just think it’s a good low-to-mid fantasy novel that has characters that I actually like reading (and, I will admit just the idea of watching Bahzell go through Westeros like a nuclear-powered flamethrower would make me smile.)

                1. And, I get to chuckle internally when people get butthurt about how GRRM hasn’t finished the next book in the series. Mind you, there’s a lot of people that I want to know why they haven’t finished more books in their series. And only 15% are John Ringo and David Weber. ❤

              1. Honestly, even the Dark Gods in the Bahzell series would probably take a look at Westeros and say, “Eeeew! Yuck! Let’s just destroy that one.”

                But yes, imagining the number of heads that would be on pikes after we got some hridani justice going is a rather soothing thought.

    2. “…not just books from a particular author, but from all the authors.”

      YES. And did you wonder how so many authors all managed to be so political about everything suddenly? That’s where I was. “Why do I keep seeing the exact same boring ass themes in book after book by every author?”

      Now I know it’s because the publishers dictate to the authors how their book is going to be. I didn’t know that before. I always thought a publisher looked for good books by good authors and published them. Like so many things in life, wrong again Phantom!

  5. I’m a reader, not an author, and I’ve mostly stopped buying traditionally published books, especially fiction. My price limit on ebooks is $5.00, unless it’s a book in a series I really like. There are only a few series like that. Every time I’m tempted to buy an ebook for more than $5.00, I just stop and remind myself that I’ll never be able to read all of the interesting books in the world, and I can certainly find a book just as interesting for less money.

    Quite a bit of my fiction reading over the past few years has come from the authors who are Mad Genii, or from books recommended in the weekly book roundup at According To Hoyt (significant overlap, of course). So thank you all very much!

  6. As I posted on KKR’s site, the Thor Power Tools decision hurt more than just equipment manufacturers. And it’s coming back to bite us all in the rear as the long tail of supply chains are disrupted. Because I didn’t want to get into a political discussion on her site, what I didn’t add is that our President isn’t responsible for most of that. Politicians from 1979 onwards have been remiss in not addressing the problems that decision made, while he’s only been in politics for 3 years.. And the much of the supply chain wasn’t disrupted by federal policy, but my state and local politicians picking winners and choosers.

  7. “She’s not refused to return to Mossy Creek, but she appears to have dropped off the face of the Earth—or at least from the streets of London.”

    She’s not only refused to return to Mossy Creek??

  8. I’m getting close to publishing my first book and I’m having the first book jitters. And, the second is being tricky to get around. (I was originally looking at a eight book spread for the series. It’s starting to look like eleven…and probably having to junk the first quarter of the second novel I have so far…)

    In all fairness, if I wasn’t running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off the the last six months, I should have been getting closer to book #2 by now. Life (like s(YAY!)t) happens, and I keep trying to get work done but something happens or I get roped into a family HoneyDo list item or I’m the only one available so Dad doesn’t have to lift things over his shoulders…

    Let’s not talk about my work environment. I should have ordered noise-canceling headphones to play music at ear-bleed levels in April. Better late than never. And a better desk. Did get a better chair, and you don’t notice until you have that better chair…

  9. I would caution that Portent is very definitely a bridge novella, much foreshadowing done in Rogue’s Magic, the last full length Mossy Creek book. That said, perfect excuse to pick up all priors and catch up before the end of September.
    And it is a very good, if far too short, action packed narrative.

      1. I have always been a firm believer that talent and quality are deserving of honest praise.
        There is something about all of your efforts that just clicks with me, so MOAR please.

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