Experiments

If you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen. I’ve been doing a fair amount of experimentation recently, and it’s come time to look at those, and see what the results are. I didn’t really approach these scientifically, to be fair. I didn’t do a formal hypothesis, and heaven knows I’m not going to calculate the statistics of the results or anything like that. I’m a lazy scientist author, I know.

So here’s the next one: I’ll be releasing another art book soon, a sketchbook of my pen-and-ink work from the last three years. I am going to say, based on past experience, that it will sell about twenty copies in the first month. Which… I am Not a Real Artist ™ and yes, I know you’re going to argue with me in the comments. I’m an artist. I’m not whatever a Real Artist is. See the difference? Anyway, I do have fans of my work, and I deeply appreciate all nineteen of you. What about number 20, you’re asking?

That would be the result of one of my experiments. No, I didn’t create a new reader from scrap parts and the aether of the electricule or suchlike. Instead, I ran an ad.

The ad was profitable. Which is about all I can say for it. I sold one paperback, for a total cost of $1.95 spent, which means that yes, I did make money off the ad. Just not a lot, and as a result, I’m left scratching my head and contemplating the next steps with running ads. It may be time for another experiment.

Just not the other experiment I did. And this failure is partly my own fault. I got stuck on using a title, and even with early market response of ‘ew…. I would never read that!’ I went ahead with it anyway. Based on the early sales to this title, I have learned not to gross my readers out.

Knowing there are nineteen fans, I’d like to apologize to the four who couldn’t bear the larval flies. I’ll do better. The stories in this book aren’t actually horror, in my opinion, but are instead what happens when I bring hard science to the zombie apocalypse. And because it’s me, it’s mostly about the characters in the stories. Still, I get it, and the feedback is noted, particularly the striking lack of reviews on it. I’ve got one, and it’s a very nice review which I deeply appreciate. I may have to change the title and cover after a while, if I can clearly note what I’ve done so you fifteen don’t wind up buying it over again, getting mad, and bailing on me. I need you! Don’t go!

I’ve learned, then, that ad campaigns can pay off. I just need to do a lot more of them before they start to expand my fanbase. Oh, if only it were as easy to increase my audience as it is to increase my own base. Feed them cookies, and they will come? Ah!

On the other one, well, I don’t think my fan base likes horror. I know they don’t like gross stuff. I’m not saying there will be kittens in the next book, but this is me. There will probably be kittens. There will definitely be a Lom story for those of you who are Pixie for Hire fans. I haven’t picked a title out for the short story collection yet, but it will be out in December and I am open to suggestions for a fantasy-themed selection of my own work. Most of which has appeared in anthologies over the last few years, but some will be brand-new and you won’t have seen it anywhere else.

The images for the header and in-post are all my work, rendered in MidJourney. Prompt was: mad scientist, beautiful red haired woman, wearing labcoat, animating body by tesla coils and bolts of electricity, wide angle, –v 4

24 comments

    1. The stories are written ten years apart, and the truly funny thing is that I got stuff wrong about pandemic response when I wrote the first one in 2012. I was far too optimistic. I had to revise it.

  1. I’m glad you liked the review. I would rather write one for a story like yours than for something that already has over 200 reviews. I’ve certainly found your sales analyses interesting. If I ever get around to publishing anything, it’s nice to know Kindle makes that information available to authors.

  2. Love the artwork! And I appreciate your inclusion of the prompts (very educational).

    I’m slowly crawling up the learning curve (for non-artists) for MidJourney by using it to generate (just for me) character portraits for the current series, using styles to settle on a relatively consistent world of people. There’s something about an actual pictures that really grounds one’s thinking about a character.

    Long-term, I think the AI Image programs are excellent candidates not just for blog images, but in particular for ad images. I’m not running ads at the moment, but when I resume I plan to use MJ to generate the dozens of variations one needs to tune ads properly for an effective return. It’s very hard to do that using stock photos — there aren’t enough variations for SFF usage, and it’s hard to make them targeted enough, especially since you need to keep replacing them.

  3. The midjourney artwork looks great. And I love the drawings you post on Instagram (sorry, haven’t been on FB much the last couple of years. Not on Instagram much either, but more than FB). Keep up the good work.

    As far as the horror/creep out factor goes, my suggestion would be to use a pen name for that genre so that your fans don’t get something unexpected.

  4. I’d second Kamas’ suggestion about a pen-name for horror and horror-adjacent work. Have sales links and mentions of the new “darker” releases on your own site, but use the pen-name for the genre, so readers can quickly say, “Oh, a new Cedar book!” or “Oh a new D. Kaye horror book!” and know what they are getting. Plus horror fans won’t leave scathing reviews of, oh, Vulcan’s Kittens because it’s not horror.

  5. I’m not the biggest fan of AI art, but that looks great. Maybe it’s just lazy AI art that’s the problem.

  6. Could you maybe rename zombie maggots into some less evocative, more sciency term that still means maggot or close?

    Larva wouldn’t work for me, it’s been used in too much horror, but….
    um…

    “Dipterous Undead”?

      1. (sigh) I’ve been reacting to external stresses by reverting to comfort reading. I’m very nearly at the level of Little Golden Books. I’m not a good source right now.

        1. My stress reading is either archaeology, paleontology, or military history. Make of it what you will. (And yes, I had to stop reading a book about the war between the two halves of Pakistan. I’m reading archaeology instead. I’ll finish the other book, but there’s a limit to the real-world horror and sadism I’m up to at the moment.)

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