Welp, it’s December. Thank goodness. I am so ready for this year to end. But that means it is time to look at the results of the experiment I’ve been doing the last quarter-plus and come to a verdict. Of course, this isn’t a scientific experiment and there is no real “control” beyond knowing what I’d been doing before. Still, I’ve seen a trend and it is enough to try to keep the “experiment” going.
Heaven help me.
Simply put, back in the summer, I decided to try to put out something new–or re-branded with additional new text included–every month. This has meant making sure my butt is in the chair and I’m on the work computer instead of the gaming computer for much of each “work day”. It also meant finding new and quicker ways to recharge between projects. Most of all, it meant keeping a tight rein on Myrtle the Evil Muse.
Okay, quit laughing. I know trying to rein her in, much less muzzle her, is pretty much a lost cause. But it sounded good when I wrote it
To see what impact on overall sales putting out a new title every month would have.
This is where I laugh hysterically. I started this experiment with a firm idea of what I would be publishing and when. I started with four titles that were either already written, had basic rough drafts done or were fully–or as fully as I ever get–outlined. I knew one of the titles would be shorter than my usual fare, more of novellas than full novels. One of those, Cat’s Paw, was the second in the bridging stories between the Nocturnal Revelations and the first full-length novel in the Noctural Awakenings story arc.
What I didn’t expect was having Myrtle rise up and demand I write another novella, this one in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series, as well. Once I got started, I undestood why A Magical Portent needed to be written. It is the bridge between Rogue’s Magic and Magic Rising, the next full-length novel in the series. Portent gives information that would otherwise wind up being one or more info dumps otherwise.
But it wasn’t scheduled and that threw everything, and I do mean everything, off.
Back to the process. Basically, it was write, send to alpha/beta readers, edit and publish. It meant butt in chair five days a week and often six or seven. I did give myself most evenings off and the majority of most weekends. I also started getting up earlier than I like–okay, that started with idiot dog who likes getting up long before the sun does so he can chase the nocturnal critters who think our yard is part of their personal highway to wherever.
There were a number of challenges this presented. From choosing cover art and then adding text elements to the actual writing process to promotion and publication, there was something in each step that had me wanting to run for the hills. For the most part, I managed to keep those fears in check. However, I fell down on one major part of the process: promotion. If I had done better at it, my numbers would have been better. Don’t get me wrong. Falling down there did not invalidate the experiment. But more on that later.
Another challenge was finding ways to recharge the creative batteries and switch “voices” more quickly than I usually do. The latter is easy enough, at least with series I’ve been working on for a while. I simply re-read at least the last book in the series before sitting down to write.
The real challenge came in recharging the creative batteries. Usually, working with my hands–and by that I mean manual labor like building something outside or stripping paint, priming, repainting, etc. I didn’t realize until yesterday that what I’d been doing wasn’t enough. How did I realize it? I looked up mid-day and realized I’d gone into full German hausfrau mode and had started removing the hardware from the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen and cleaning them.
And this without company coming.
Yep, the brain reached critical creative mass and needed a time out.
The “duh” part of this is that I’m a walking zombie usually by the third week of each month. I’m not a morning person. So adjusting to getting up between 0430 and 0500 most days is not fun. I’m no longer that college student who could stay up several days straight and still be human.
Changes in story arcs. This is particularly true where the Eerie Side of the Tracks series is concerned. That “universe” began as a simple romantic suspense novel. Then Skeletons in the Closet came out and, well, the first twist occurred. (And yes, that is being finished. That is another of the unintended consequences. I finally know where it is going.) The series has started becoming more serious and in the next two books, it will continue along in that vein. Don’t get me wrong. It won’t lose what makes it what it is, but not everyone is going to have that HAE.
Yesterday, Myrtle hit me again. This time with a plot bunny she’s been trying to push for some years now. Except this time, she’d figured out where the story needs to go and started sharing it with me. I know when she’s serious when I’m driven to do a cover for the story. That almost always means it is going to be one of the next ones to be done. However, I made a deal with her. Because I still have at least five novels/novellas on my plate that need to come out soonest, I will do this one in installments on my blog. One or two chapters a week.
Here’s a link to my blog post about it yesterday. And here’s the placeholder cover.
Of course, I also did two variations. Why? Because the muse demanded it.
Now, I know the covers suck. But they are more a placeholder to give me the feel/inspiration the story arc needs right now. And, yes, this story wiill be darker than much of my work, although it isn’t going to be horror or dystopian. And that’s all I’m going to say for now.
Well, all I’m going to say about Demonsbane. You know I have more to say about how this “experiment” of mine turned out.
This is no big “Duh!” because I knew it already. I suck at promotion. That is what I have to start working seriously on. Why? Because the spike in sales I saw by putting out titles on a regular basis, even shorter titles, seems to confirm two things. First, people want to escape through reading. That’s probably more true right now than it has been in a very long time because so much of our regular escape mechanisms have been curtailed or closed altogether.
Second, putting out titles closer together than I have been not only helps sales in that particular series but overall. It helps that I link all my books to my real name as well as the pen name.
Third, sales as well as pages read have increased and there isn’t as much drop off because new titles are coming out within a week or two of what had often been the huge drop off point. I could probably improve those numbers with solid promotion. Now to figure out how to do that effectively without feeling like I’m doing nothing but begging folks to buy my books.
So, yes, I’m going to keep pushing and trying to bring out a new title every 4 to 6 weeks. At least as long as I can. It means pushing myself and exercising self-control. In other words, remembering this is my job and treating it as such.
Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.
And I’m going to need lots and lots of coffee and probably good whiskey.
FYI: Since March, here’s my publication list. All but two came out since mid-August: