One of the great things about being an independent author is that you get to make all the decisions. Feel like writing a fifteen-volume series about trans-dimensional robots searching for fresh strawberries on a lava planet? Go for it. Feel like capitalizing every third word in a sentence? I question the long-term strategy, but you be you. Feel like releasing your book on a certain day? There aren’t any publishers to tell you not to.
The downside of being an independent author is actually the same as the upside: you have to make all the decisions. If that robot series doesn’t sell–although I can’t see why it wouldn’t!–you have nobody to blame but yourself. (And Kevin. Because it was probably Kevin’s fault.) Additionally, you’ll quickly discover that having full autonomy doesn’t mean people won’t still question those decisions. For every choice ever made, someone out there is thinking ‘…but why?’
Fortunately, you can just pass those questions off to your publicist.
Unfortunately, you are that publicist.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I continue to revise my plans for eventual world domination1. After releasing See These Bones to positive reviews2 in November, the #1 question most people have asked me has been: when can we read the sequel?
When I inform them that I’m instead focusing on revising the first book of my other series, their reaction usually plays out in one of two ways:
- They slowly back away, trying not to make eye contact… at which point, I realize they were just dropping off a package and hadn’t asked about my book at all, despite me coming to the door, book in hand, wearing a shirt that reads “Indie Author, PLEASE talk to me”
- They want to know why the hell I would do that3.
If you belong to that second group–or even if you’re just another indie author looking for lessons in what not to do–you’ve come to the right place. And that place is, of course, this blog post.
Why are you releasing Investigation, Mediation, Vindication this spring instead of the sequel to See These Bones?
The short answer is: because IMV has a shot at actually being released this spring, and Red Right Hand never did. One is a rewrite, the other is brand new. One is 100k words, the other will probably be closer to 140k. If I focused on Red Right Hand, I still wouldn’t be delivering it before late summer at the earliest, and any chance of releasing two books in 2020 would be gone.
But aren’t you worried about losing your existing readers by not releasing Red Right Hand until the fall?
Totally. But I think flagging reader interest is a potential issue whether you’re talking a nine month release cycle (which would be the earliest I could manage if I was writing Red Right Hand right now) and a twelve month release cycle (as currently scheduled).
My hope is that the See These Bones audiobook4 and IMV’s release in late spring will keep my name fresh in readers’ minds. I’m also hopeful that IMV will bring in a whole bunch of new readers who might decide to check See These Bones out.
Do you think that’s likely?
Shockingly, yes! In fact, I think Investigation, Mediation, Vindication (and the rest of the John Smith series) might end up being a lot more popular than See These Bones and its sequels. Part of that is the genre (urban fantasy vs. post-apocalyptic superhero). IMV is also a quicker, more casual read; fewer expletives, a protagonist not fated to go insane, a fair bit of humor, and a vegetable demigod that everyone seems to love.
It’s entirely possible–and maybe even likely–that it will be the more successful of the two books.
If Investigation, Mediation, Vindication has more mass-market appeal, why didn’t you release it first?
That’s an annoyingly good question.
In part, it’s because it still needed the rewrite that I’m currently working on, but the bigger reason is that I really, really like See These Bones. It’s different in a lot of ways, punching above its weight class, and that’s interesting to me. I wanted my first book to be distinctive and I believed that would work to help attract new readers.
Instead, it’s mostly just made it difficult to nail down an effective marketing strategy.
If only you had a marketing director…
Now you’re just being mean.
True. So let’s get back to that trans-dimensional robot series. When are you releasing that?
Get out. 😆
I’ll be back next week with a quick sales update and some site news. Until then!