May 292013

Ashes of Alour-Tan has now been out for just over six months. When I launched the book, I made the decision to pay little-to-no attention to my sales figures for that span of time, at which point I would look at the numbers and decide what they might indicate for future strategy.

A couple of notes before we dig in:

1. I am very happy with Ashes’ performance. As a debut, self-published novel my expectations for sales were quite low and it exceeded them handily. I would have been happy with one sale and made substantially more than that.

2. Ashes’ performance to date means little in the grand scheme of my long-term writing goals. Every self-publishing success story has the common thread of an author with many titles for their readers and I am not aware of any success story that centers on a single breakout title. Until I have at least five titles out and available, I don’t anticipate significantly better sales figures than Ashes garnered, and I am quite content with that. Of course, I do hope that each subsequent release will show progress.

3. I did very little in the way of promotion for Ashes. I announced it here on the blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Tumblr, on a handful of non-writing forums where I also added a link to the book to my forum signature, created author pages on Amazon and Goodreads, and…that’s it. I did not submit it to any book blogs, writing/author/self-publishing communities, or any other major venue for promotion. This minimal promotion decision was deliberate.

Right, let’s get to the numbers.
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An explosion of words

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Mar 032012

My, oh my. Where does the time go?

My astonishing silence around these parts is due in large measure to two things. First, holidays happened. Second, SW:TOR happened. Third, and most important, writing happened. I’ve collected as much beta reader feedback as I can hope to at this point and have resumed putting fingers to keyboard. The third draft of Ashes is underway at full steam. I am planning to have it finished before the month is out, at which point it goes to my wife for meticulous line-editing. Once she is satisfied that my word choices won’t result in horrific embarrassment for all time, it’s time to publish.

One of the recent1 impediments to proceeding on Draft Three was a problem of structure. While the beginning and end of the book are right where I wanted them, the middle got aimless and dragged. There was no flow to the largest Act in the book. I took a few steps back from it and did something I should’ve done from the outset: I wrote down the whole story as a point-for-point treatment; a glorified outline, if you will. In such a pared-down form2, it was easy to see where the story flow faltered. Less easy was figuring out how to fix it. Sitting with Cody and throwing ideas at her, we managed to sort through the chaff and find a thread along which the story makes sense. It’s resulted in some larger changes than I anticipated making in this draft3, but they are all changes I am excited about. The thought of editing this draft is exhilarating rather than daunting.

I’ve also started using the trial of Scrivener, which a number of authors that I follow swear by. After playing with it for a few days, I can see why. Once my trial’s up, I am almost certainly going to spend the $40 to buy it.

Related to the above, I have made the decision to self-publish Ashes once it’s finished. I’ve been waffling over whether or not to self-publish through Kindle / Smashwords / et. al. or to query agents/publishers. I’ve read enough horror stories lately about the Big Six, and seen enough success stories from self-publishers, that I’d already been leaning in that direction. The entire face of publishing is changing because of the sudden explosion of eBooks. I think I’d be a fool to ignore it. Coupled with thinking about my writing not only as a creative endeavor, but also as a business/financial one, it’s the one that seems to make the most sense. True, it means I won’t see my book(s) in a bookstore, but it also means that I don’t have to jump through someone else’s hoops to tell my stories, nor deal with some of the uglier aspects of traditional publishing.

Following Ashes, I have my pick of next projects. I have two more books that finish out the story that Ashes begins. Like Star Wars, Ashes can be read as a complete experience unto itself. You don’t get the full story without the other two books, though. In addition, I have an idea for a series of indefinite length centering on a female paranormal/supernatural investigator. Think Dresden meets Buffy meets the Winchester brothers, with a heavy emphasis on her relationships with the people in her life, and you’ll have some idea of that one. I’ve also got another set of stories set in the same world as Ashes, but far removed from it geographically, centering on another female protagonist — Belle LaMairian. Moving away from fantasy, I have a ton of sci-fi story ideas I could develop, as well. I think I’ll let Ashes sit for a bit and start working on the Dresden+Buffy+Winchester+romance+investigation smorgasbord next, since that’s an idea I’m excited about right now. That’s not to say the others don’t excite me; my mind is just active with that one right now.

All in all, things have been going very well. I’m going to try to post more regularly4, maybe even get into a *gasp* daily cadence! We shall see.

  1. As in, in the last week []
  2. A mere four pages []
  3. I cut an entire major journey, a major location, and and encounter with a political power. In its stead, I elevated the importance of a main character, completely destroyed said location, destroyed another location while I was at it, increased the political goings-on that happen around the main characters, and amped up the stakes for the climax of the book. []
  4. Ha, have we heard that before? []