There’s nothing like a new release to make the month fly by, is there? It feels like just yesterday that I was releasing The Italian Screwjob, but it’s already been more than two weeks, and April is now knocking on the door, probably with a pie ready to throw. Before that inevitable (and inevitably unfunny) pie to the face, I wanted to do a quick retrospective on the release. Sales reports, reviews, progress updates, and a tenative two-year publishing schedule… let’s see what’s up and what’s next.
A Release Retrospective
As ever, I think it’s worthwhile to look back at the release and see what went well and what didn’t. Because I’m the optimistic sort1, we’ll start with the good!
After two weeks, The Italian Screwjob is sitting on (US) Amazon with 113 ratings/reviews and an aggregate score of 4.6 stars out of 5. A lot of readers seemed to enjoy John’s trip to Italy, the expansive cast of new characters, and the resolution of a few long-running plot threads.
It’s also still hanging around in the top 10k-15k overall sales rankings, and remains in the top 50 of two of its main categories. This release has helped shepherd in my second-ever million+ Kindle Unlimited page-read month, which is incredible. Sales have been strong in general2, and this will be my second best month of royalties ever.
That’s amazing, and I owe it to all of you. To my new readers, thank you for taking a chance on a new author still learning what the hell he’s doing… and to the rest of you, thank you for continuing to support my books!
Lessons for the Future
So, what didn’t go so well? What can I improve on for next time3? I’m so glad you asked!
First, while switching from NetGalley to manually sending out ARCs has saved me a lot of money, it has also reduced the number of pre-release reviews I get to almost zero4. Clearly, my current approach is not working. ARC teams are really helpful for promoting a book launch, so this is something I need to figure out. I’ve had poor luck with other ARC services, but maybe it’s time to try again?
Secondly, I didn’t have my additional Amazon categories set at launch. And then Amazon took more than a week and four customer service tickets to add them for me. Why does that matter? The more categories your book belongs to, the more discoverable it is to potential readers. Additionally, having a top-ranked book equates to more sales, and some categories are more competitive than others. I reached a #1 ranking in Vampire Mysteries5 for a few hours, but might have stayed at #1 in Horror Comedy6 for multiple days. Between me waiting too late to request new categories and Amazon struggling to actually add them, I likely cost myself some sales in that all-important release window.
There was also a fairly major typo7 in the digital release of The Italian Screwjob. This was a direct result of me doing my ebook formatting8 after beta and then focusing on the print version for final proofreads. For future releases, I’ll set aside the 2-4 days I need to do the formatting before I send out beta copies9 so that my sainted beta readers can help find those mistakes for me.
Finally, on the story front, some readers were increasingly frustrated by John’s slow growth… both as an adult and as a detective/mediator. And I get that! This book was about John again being dropped into a situation he was ill-suited to handle. In book 5, we’ll be back in San Diego (mostly) and playing more to his strengths. That said, John will always be John.
So, what’s next? Rather than bore you all with another long paragraph of text, I’ve put together my tentative schedule for the next two years. As ever, this section contains forward-looking statements and blah blah blah. You know the deal: these are rough estimates and I-hope-I-can-do-that dates. If I get kidnapped by pro-Bill revolutionaries, all bets are off!
Aug 2022 — Untitled series starter10
Nov 2022 — Her Majesty/Queen of Smiles stand-alone novel11
TBD 2022 — A free short story chronicling Damian’s showdown with Tezcatlipoca12
Apr 2023 — A Dead Man’s Favor… aka John Smith, book 5
Aug 2023 — Book two in the new series
Nov 2023 — Book one in an entirely new post-Break trilogy13
TBD 2023 — Post-Break novelettes. I have half a dozen novelettes I still want to write, featuring everyone from Paladin and Vibe to Winter to Alan-Fucking-Jackson and even Ishmae. I just need to set aside the time.
So, that’s my unofficially official schedule for the next two years. New worlds, new characters, new stories, and the return of a few crowd favorites. It’s a lot, but I’m excited by the challenge!
What I’m Reading…
My biggest issue with these blog posts is that they’re always about me. I’d like to change that by sharing some love for other authors’ books each month. This month, I wanted to give a shout out to The Wandering Sword by Jacob Peppers.
I won’t spoil the plot of this series starter, but the book fills a niche I’ve always wanted to see in print… the marriage of Spaghetti Westerns with a fantasy world. This is very much a ‘ mysterious gunslinger walks into a town’ sort of tale (albeit with two swords instead of a gun) that builds toward something far more complex, even as it layers in some lovely worldbuilding along the way. I don’t know Mr. Peppers, but I really enjoyed his story, and am excited to see where he takes things in subsequent books.
The Wandering Sword is available on Kindle Unlimited, so the barrier to entry is basically non-existent. Check it out!
And that’s it from me this month. Happy April, stay safe, eat well, and keep reading!
- People who know me are laughing.
- Preorder numbers were second only to the monstrous numbers for One Tin Soldier.
- Besides me continuing to improve as a writer… which will always be my goal!
- I was lucky that two of my sainted beta readers left reviews on Goodreads after the beta and posted quickly to Amazon upon release!
- One of the categories I had at launch.
- One of the categories I added after the fact.
- Which has since been fixed.
- And introducing that typo during the very manual process.
- I’ve resisted doing this in the past because it means any corrections based on beta feedback have to be applied to two different sources, but I’d rather have a little bit of extra work for me if it means a better finished product for you.
- This will be my own take on a portal fantasy with some soft litRPG elements. I’m about 10k into it so far, and already know there’s going to be some heavy editing once I’m done.
- This takes place after the events of One Tin Soldier, but will be centered in the Badlands. As Damian predicted, the continent’s not big enough for two queens.
- I”ve heard from more than a few people who were less than pleased that their confrontation occurred off-page in One Tin Soldier. While I don’t think there’s enough there for a full book, especially since the book would be just Damian, as the only person who can cross into Mexico, I do think it could make for a fun short. And making it free seems like the least I could do for all of you.
- As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this will feature a new cast. However, don’t be shocked if we see a few returning characters from the first trilogy.