This has been quite the month, hasn’t it? At a time when so many people are stuck at home watching the economy tank and coronavirus numbers skyrocket while also trying to figure out how to entertain their children 24/7, blog posts about an indie author and his latest shenanigans rightly rank low on the priority list.
Still… it’s been a month since my last update, and the Indie Author’s Guide to World Domination says a global pandemic is not an acceptable excuse for letting my blog schedule fall by the wayside.
So here we are. It’s the end of March, also known as the end of the first quarter, which means it’s time to check in on my 2020 writing goals, dole out some 1st quarter grades, and give a brief status update on all the things.
There may be alcohol involved.
2020 Writing Goals – 1st Quarter Grades
Neatly sidestep the question of whether goals are the same as resolutions by exclusively using the word goals in this and future posts
Grade: A+. The word resolution has been banished for all time from this site’s lexicon1
Finish my re-write of Investigation, Mediation, Vindication, and publish it by late spring
Grade: Incomplete, but optimistic. See the status update section for more info!
Allocate Thursdays for writing poetry and start sharing those poems again.
Grade: B. The student has done pretty well so far, but let things slide during his 2+ week sickness.
Continue blogging every month
Grade: Present. Wait. Is present a grade? Eh. Whatever. I’m going with it.
Drink a lot of whisky
Grade: A+. Student shows real aptitude for a life of introverted debauchery.
Write the sequel to See These Bones and publish it this fall
Grade: Incomplete. See the status update section for more info!
Reserve December for writing Fire of Unknown Origin, the final novelette (for now) set in the See These Bones universe
Grade: Incomplete. We’ll circle back to this one in December.
Grade: Incomplete. This has taken a backseat to everything else going on.
Use commas where appropriate. Also… use them where inappropriate. This is a free-comma society, man. We don’t subscribe to your limitations.
Grade: Purple. We don’t subscribe to your authoritarian letter-grade conventions either, man!
The Good and the Bad
That’s a whole lot of incompletes! Even so, I think I’m mostly on track with my 2020 writing goals2. February being so productive helped make up for March being anything but. Now, I’m juggling a bunch of different things and need to get them all to the finish line while also focusing back in on Red Right Hand.
And with that, let’s get to the status updates, shall we?
February was a pretty great month for sales and Kindle Unlimited reads, and that trend continued into March. I had, at one point, a 43-day streak of page-reads3. For the first half of the month, orders were also way up. If you ignore units sold during the $0.99 promotional week, my sales this month had actually doubled February’s.
And then everything fell off a cliff. Contrary to expectations, people on lockdown don’t seem to be interested in finding new books to read. I’d think it was just an unfortunate result of See These Bones and its companion stories being post-apocalyptic–in a time where people see alarming stuff on the news everyday–but a number of other indie authors have reported similar trends.
I’ve still had some sales, (at a fairly average clip), but for whatever reason, Kindle Unlimited page reads have completely flatlined. Considering those page reads have been the majority of my royalties over the past few months, it’s concerning. My AMS (Amazon Marketing services) stats look about the same as ever… same # of impressions, same # of clicks, but fewer of those clicks are turning into page-reads4.
We’ll have to wait and see if this changes. Maybe this is just an unforeseen result of of the pandemic, or maybe we’ve reached the endgame of a standard book life-cycle5.
Reviews of a Post-Break World
Last month, I released The Storm in Her Smile, and The Stars that Sing, the short story companions to See These Bones. Sales have been fairly tepid, but it’s been fun to watch people read the novel and then migrate over to check out the other stories6. Both new stories are sitting at five stars over at Goodreads, albeit with only a few reviews. Oddly, I haven’t seen any reviews on Amazon yet. Nor have I seen new reviews for See These Bones on Amazon in quite a while, despite the steady sales.
If you’ve read any of the books and feel so inclined, I’d love some more reviews! And if you’ve already tried to leave a review and had it rejected by Amazon7, please let me know that too. I can try to escalate the issue with Amazon.
As it is, the lack of Amazon reviews for these two short stories may be giving potential new readers pause, which is a bummer.
I submitted the See These Bones audiobook to Amazon for approval on March 4th. The normal approval process appears to be 2 weeks, but we’re still waiting. I suspect a lot of things are running more slowly than normal, as Amazon pivots to essential products and deliveries. Hopefully, the audiobook will be approved soon!
I’ve also commissioned audiobooks (by the same narrator) for both short stories. Those should be done sometime in April and available sometime in May.
I really hope you like them! This has been a fascinating but very lengthy experience.
Investigation, Mediation, Vindication
I’m now into the second round of beta reader feedback8, and I think the book is shaping up nicely. Two of my beta readers red-flagged some of my character descriptions9, and the latest version reads much better as a result.
I’ve already started the cover commissioning process, using the same design company that did such a great job on See These Bones and its short stories. So far, it’s been a bit more of a struggle than I expected. IMV is an urban fantasy, and there are certain expectations of an urban fantasy cover. I want to play into those expectations but at the same time subvert them10, but the designer and I aren’t on the same page just yet. We’ll get there eventually!
Once the cover is ready and my beta readers have signed off on the final edits, I’ll be posting the manuscript to NetGalley to get some advance reviews. That should happen sometime in early April, and I’ll launch on Amazon in May. I’ll do the same sort of countdown for that release that I did for See These Bones; sample chapters, book stats, cover reveals, etc. It should be fun!
Red Right Hand
While all of the above is going on, I also need to be working on the sequel to See These Bones. My last writing pass had the manuscript at ~12k words, which is a good starting point, even if I’ll probably only keep ~60% of it.
My ultimate goal is for Red Right Hand to be similar in length to its predecessor… roughly 130k words. If I can average ~30-40k words a month for the next few months, it would give me July-September for editing. I could then commission the cover, solicit advance reviews in October, and go live with a November release.
I’d honestly prefer to shorten that schedule by a month, releasing in October instead of November, but we’ll have to see. This is my first time writing on a compressed schedule, and I’m not entirely sure how well it will work.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve got gumption, kid. In fact, you’re just the kind of person I’m looking for… to join my newsletter. If you’re browsing this site on a desktop, you’ve probably already seen the newsletter signup form to the right. If you’re on a phone, you may not have even known I had a newsletter. Thankfully, I’ve added the signup link to the main site menu, so you too can join in on the fun.
And by fun, I mean “be alerted when new books are available.” If this site’s blog posts are my monthly, in-depth11, fact-heavy shareholders’ reports, the newsletters are my far-less-frequent, carefully crafted, pseudo-tweets, skipping all the nitty gritty to tell you what you really want to know; what’s new and how you can get it.
I promise that I will never spam you… because spamming takes effort, and I am way, way too busy for that.
Until next time! Take care, stay safe, and happy reading!
And if you’re looking for something to occupy your (teenage) children, The Stars That Sing is a quick read with minimal profanity12!
- Pay no attention to the fact that I just used it.
- Especially the whisky part.
- Wherein some # of pages were read from See These Bones, The Storm in Her Smile, and The Stars that Sing for consecutive days
- Quick tangent: Amazon only reports when a click turns into a sale, so you have to guess at whether AMS is helping with page-reads or not. So I can’t be certain that my healthier days of page-reads were a result of ads or not… I only know my page-reads have dwindled while my clicks remain the same.
- Until the sequel is released
- I’d hoped to see the opposite flow occur also, but the short stories don’t appear to be working as entrypoints into the series. It could be a price-point issue.
- I’ve heard from at least two people who tried to leave reviews (one for See These Bones, and one for The Stars That Sing), who had their reviews rejected with no explanation
- And the 127,000th edit!
- One of my shortcomings as writer.
- Something the book also tries to do.
- Probably too in-depth.
- Which sets it apart from literally everything else I’ve written.
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