Hey everyone! It’s been quite a while since the last update here, hasn’t it? I’ve shared a few tidbits on social media–primarily Facebook and Twitter-but realized it was well past time I wrote something official here for the rest of you.
Books! Books! Books!
Let’s start with the stuff you’re all here for. After two months of illness and another month spinning my wheels, writing on Speaker of Tongues, my forthcoming litrpg portal fantasy1, is really starting to flow. I’m roughly 60-70% through the initial draft, and am making a push to finish it in the next 2-3 weeks. That would leave me editing the book2 at the same time as I write the next book in The Many Travails of John Smith, A Dead Man’s Favor, but I think that’s pretty doable. My angel-wife just read through the first 200+ pages, and while I have some work to do in edits, she liked the pacing, plot, and world so far. She even enjoyed the LitRPG mechanics aspects!
As mentioned, A Dead Man’s Favor will be up next, followed by the first book in the new post-Break trilogy3. The goal is to finish ADMF in July, giving my beta readers all of August to read and respond before the September release date. Because yes, we have a release date! A Dead Man’s Favor has been up for pre-order for a few weeks now, and has already passed The Queen of Smiles in total pre-orders4!
The sequel to The Queen of Smiles has sadly been bumped to 2024, given that I lost most of Q1 to illness5. I think I’m back to about 95% now, health-wise, but the loss of a full quarter really put me in a hole and something had to give. Still, I’ve finalized the titles for the next two (yes, two!) Her Majesty novels, and the first of those is about as thoroughly outlined as my books ever get. Whenever I have time to actually write it, it should go quickly. Queenie and Two-Feathers are going to get up to all sorts of mischief on their way down to Mexico to chat with an old friend.
And speaking of The Queen of Smiles, the audiobook recording continues! We’re looking at a summer-ish release right now, and I’m almost as excited for you all to hear it as I am sorry for what it’s doing to Joe’s poor voice; an entire book of Her Majesty’s metallic growl might just be a narrator’s worst nightmare. (I haven’t told him yet that there are two sequels coming. That would be needlessly cruel.)
The Frozen Tundra
As some of you on social media already know, my angel-wife and I took a trip up to Fairbanks, Alaska at the beginning of April for a writing conference. Thus, the above image; we certainly don’t get snow like that in Vegas6!
A lot of the conference discussion was about how to run a writing business, and we talked budgets, newsletters7 and engagement, branding, and more. There were a bunch of really talented authors there and while I’m about as far from an extrovert as someone can get, it was fun to trade stories about what has worked (and not worked) for each of us. Also, Fairbanks is way larger and more city-like than I had expected, even while being covered in literal feet of snow. It reached -1F while we were there, but the scenery totally made up for it.
Someday, we’ll take another trip up to Alaska!
All About The Benjamins
On to the business side of things, and if you’re not interested in the nitty gritty of life as an indie author, please… feel free to skip it!
The Alaska conference came at a great time, because I’ve been obsessing over my writing income this year. With The Queen of Smiles’ release now six months behind us, a recession still potentially looming, and Amazon doing distinctly Amazon things8, 2023 has gotten off to a rocky start, business-wise. Kindle Unlimited page-reads dwindled in February, March, and April, and Audible royalties did too9. To be fair, that’s just how it goes as an author: ups and downs are a part of the profession. As was reiterated at the conference, the best way to keep the gravy train flowing is to (a) release more books, and (b) write long series that will extend the tails of any promos you might do.
With my next book release not coming until (probably) September, (a) is clearly not happening, and of course I sidestepped (b) by ending The Murder of Crows at three books10. So, I’ve been focusing in on other strategies, from ramping up my own sales and promotions to finally diving into Facebook ads11. So far, so good on both approaches, but it’s been a learning process. I currently have ads running for the Murder of Crows boxed set, and just launched another one for Investigation, Mediation, Vindication as well. My focus will always, always, always be on writing books–I’m a writer, not a salesperson–but in the indie world, we have a lot of different hats to wear, and sometimes, circumstances force us to wear one more than others.
(Side note: If you read The Murder of Crows and loved it, I’d like to ask a favor: could you write a review for the boxed set too? With ads targeting that boxed set instead of the trilogy’s individual books, its ratings and reviews matter. Even though the books themselves have hundreds12 of ratings, I have to imagine the lack of ratings/reviews for the boxed set could be scaring off some potential new readers.)
On the topic of promotions, See These Bones is an Amazon Monthly Deal for April! I’ve seen significantly less action than I did during the Amazon Daily Deal for IMV at the turn of the year, but anything that brings in new potential readers is a good thing! Also, audiobooks.com has the third and fourth audiobooks in The Many Travails of John Smith on sale for 40% off! If you haven’t already heard Joel Richards’ take on John and his friends, this is a great time to do so!
Lastly, in the next few months, I’ll be adding print copies of my books to Barnes & Noble, for those of you would prefer not to have anything to do with the almighty ‘Zon. Ebooks will remain an Amazon-exclusive for now; exclusivity is a requirement for Kindle Unlimited, and even with the recent downturn, KU is ~60% of my take-home. Still, it’s a stance I’ll continue to re-evaluate as the year continues.
What I’ve Been
And that’s enough about books! With the weather finally turning here in Las Vegas, my angel-wife and I went to see the Dungeons & Dragons movie and thoroughly enjoyed it! Just good, clean, silly, and heartfelt (if strangely bloodless!) fun. I had a few quibbles13, but it was nice to finally get a movie worthy of the license. I hope we might see a sequel, despite the terrible, terrible, terrible strategy of scheduling the movies’ release the week before Super Mario Bros. stomped all over the box office.
On the small screen, we’re still watching Ted Lasso not coach soccer and I’m looking forward to a couple of big budget streaming spy offerings that may or may not be any good: Citadel and Ghosted. And I don’t know if any of you caught Nick Cage’s interview with Steven Colbert this past week, but it was utterly delightful!
And that’s it for now! Until next time, stay safe, have fun, and keep reading!
If you’ve read this far, you’ve got gumption, kid. In fact, you’re just the kind of person that would make an awesome subscriber to my newsletter. Come join the fun!
And by fun, I mean “be alerted when new books are available.” If this site’s blog posts are my monthly, in-depth, 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 actually want to know: what’s new and how you can get it.
I promise I will never spam you… because spamming takes effort, and I am way, way too busy for that.
- Release Date: TBD
- Probably on the weekends!
- I already have a title and a cover for the latter, so look for those as we enter the second half of the year
- But don’t worry; Her Majesty isn’t going to take it personally or anything. I’m told she’s the reasonable sort of unstoppable storm of shrapnel squeezed into the shell of a human.
- Food poisoning -> cold -> bronchitis -> pneumonia -> your guess is as good as mine.
- I am still planning to start a monthly newsletter that will be separate from the current ‘new releases only’ newsletter!
- To the detriment of everyone on the platform.
- Amazon decided to unilaterally lower audiobook costs, promising that the increased volume of sales would make up for it. Spoiler alert: they have not!
- Fulfilling from a critical and artistic perspective, but probably less than smart from a commercial one.
- If you see one come across your feed, say hi! At some point, I’ll figure out how to say hi back.
- Almost a thousand, in One Tin Soldier’s case!
- Chief among them, the bard not ever casting any magic!