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Personal notes

Forget the writing – how rich are you now?

Woe to they who think the path to riches lies in self-publishing. Let’s just start with that.

I blog a lot about writing here. In fact, it’s probably the one thing I talk about the most. Part of that is for accountability – not to you, but to me. Blogging about writing gives me a place to talk about something that isn’t work related, a place to remind myself why I work so hard for my free time. I talk about the stories in progress, or more recently, my attempts at publishing and getting attention for those books, but these early days there is actually a lot of floundering going on.

Some of it is all me. I’m new at this, and while I think I’m personable, I lack that personality trait that let’s me just go out there and mingle randomly. That lowers my visibility, which in turn affects sales. The big problem I’ve faced, though, is figuring out how to encourage reviews. Reviews really are the force of the lifeblood of self publishing. The more you have, positive or negative, the more likely you are to have successful sales. I encourage folks to leave reviews in whichever venue they prefer, but when it comes to sales, the Amazon review is probably the most influential for me. Oddly enough, a handful of great reviews is worse for a book than a hundred mediocre reviews.

What?

Sadly, it’s true. Amazon ranking is based in part on how well reviewed your book is. And of course like the cart and the horse, the more reviews you have, the more visibility you get, the more sales you garner, and the more reviews you get. It’s a closed loop system that I’m trying to figure out how to breach. I know it can be done, and I know a few people recently that have done it with great success.

I just haven’t figured out how I can do it.

So what’s a writer to do? Because if you haven’t figured it out yet, there are no riches on this end of the rainbow. The answer for me is pretty simple: continue to write. While I enjoy the project I’m working on, at least so far book one hasn’t really snagged the interest I’d hoped for. That’s OK. I want to finish writing this series, or at least the first trilogy of it. If sales don’t pick up for the Niki books, I’ll move on to a different series. I have plenty of them bouncing around in my head, waiting to get out.

And that’s the other lesson I have in self publishing. If the first lesson was don’t expect sales to be great early on, the second is to keep writing even if you don’t think anyone is reading you. There are plenty of reasons we write, but the chief one should be to tell a story. If that means that for now only a handful of people are going to get that story, that’s fine. Isn’t it better to have a back catalog of works to share with new readers when something does hit a nerve in the future? How many times have you read a great book and wished the author had written more that you could binge on?

And to answer the question in the title – not rich at all. I’m barely breaking even so far on my writing when you include things like ads. My goal is to break even. Of course, like anyone, my day dream is to make enough to take my spouse out to dinner every now and then, but I don’t want to be greedy.

This week I’ve been closing with a reminder that Chrysalis is currently on sale for 99 cents, and this post is no different. But to add to that, if you’re a writer that stumbled on this post, ping me on twitter (@kodermike) – kindred souls deserve company.

The week that wasn’t, June 18, delayed considerably

It took me only three weeks in to miss a Sunday blog post. Not exactly a record.

I want to say that it was because it was Father’s Day this last Sunday, and between the Oregon Renaissance Fair the day before (spoiler: IT WAS AWESOME) and the laissez faire of FD, I just didn’t have an opportunity to post a blog entry.

Truth is, I just didn’t have the inclination. The last week has been a dismal week for writing, and no one wants to stand up on the pulpit, as it were, and admit their shortcomings before an audience. According to my word tracking scripts and monitors, I haven’t added a single word to The Maiden’s Tears in seven days (since the 13th).  This isn’t writer’s block, and I haven’t given up on the novel. Far from it, in fact. Mostly, my brain has just needed a break, I guess.

20170617_152909.jpg As mentioned, the Renaissance Fair was awesome. Back when my bride and I were first married, we were a bit short of funds for many things, including a honeymoon. But the week after we got married, there was a local Renaissance Fair where we lived in Virginia. These days you can find pictures of it on io9 because it’s overgrown and looks a bit haunted, but for us it remains a really bright and happy memory. This was the Oregon fair’s second year, and it was spectacular, huge, and very much full of awesome. The kids had fun, we had fun, and the jousting was superb (and a bit more authentic than I remember from other fair’s we’ve been to).

I’m still reading It. It really says something when you’re 800 pages into a book, or just over 50%. It is huge.  But I’m already looking forward to my TBR pile, which grew a bit this week. I placed an order with Abe Books (I’ve always had good luck with them) and expect the first of the next books on my TBR to show up relatively soon.

Outside of writing, reading, and a Celtic themed fair weekend, the last week was mostly a blur of workdays. Here’s hoping the rest of this week is more productive in the non-work arena.

…and  a final note. If you’ve read Chrysalis, I could really use the reviews on Amazon (the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything else). It’s easy to ask folks that know me to give the book a chance, but people that don’t know me rely on reviews to decide whether a books is worthy of trying. Reviews from other readers make a book more worth taking a risk on. If you’ve read the book, please consider leaving a review. If you haven’t and are a member of the Kindle Unlimited plan, you can read the book for free. Thanks!

 

The Week That Was, June 11 Edition

The problem with having a day job is that it’s always finding ways of getting in the way, and this week was no exception. Because of reasons at work (all good), I’ve been on-call for the last two weeks, in addition to any of my normal work. Not complaining, but it’s made not-work time a real premium.

The Mermaid’s Tears continues on pace. It’s not a fast pace, or something I’d want to dance to, but it’s a pace. I only wrote about 5k this last week, nothing great, but every word counts as they say.  It’s hard not to say more, but spoilers!

Our middle daughter (13), after complaining about headaches when she’s reading, went in for an eye exam last week. We were told to expect it to take a few weeks for the glasses to be ready (nearsighted, like father like daughter), so we were all pleasantly surprised when they were ready this week.

I’m still reading It. It’s hard to praise a book that’s already well known and well liked. Believe me when I say, so far it deserves it. The paperback is 1400+ pages, and the first 300 are just introducing characters. I know the Dark Tower is the epic saga in King’s writing, any book that takes 300 pages to introduce the cast is epic in my opinion. This is King after he figured out how to write, and it’s smooth, engaging, and engrossing.

Finally, the week ended with a short story rejection. Normally I wouldn’t mention it, but this is a story that made it to second rounds, which I’m a bit proud of. Oddly enough, I’ve stopped pushing my short stories out lately. It’s not that I don’t have faith in them, but I haven’t written anything new (short) in a while. The stories I have lying around right now are stories that written by a me almost two years ago. My writing has changed since then, and I don’t think they are as fair a representation of me as something I might write now.  Of course, I’d have to not be writing a novel at the moment to have the time to write a short, so I guess that’s on hold for later this summer.

Finally, a funny little something I read this week on Tor.  My Lousy Children Are Both Fake Geeks was fun and funny, and a bit close to home.

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