Wednesday, November 7, 2012

To-Do List

To-Do List

I haven’t written anything substantial in…oh…probably a year.  Probably since I turned Wolf in way back in August of ’11.  I’ve done revisions, I’ve done edits, I’ve dribbled and drabbled here and there, but I haven’t sat down to actually write anything new.  Mostly because I have been so torn up over whether the series would be continued, and then knowing that it wouldn’t, and… Bleh.  Mental anguish takes a toll on the creative process.

However.  It is now time for me to get off my ass.  So, with that as my goal, here is the list of things I would like to accomplish, in no particular order or priority.

Finish A Night of Fire and Ash:  This book is actually about 3 chapters from being complete.  It was actually my Nano project clear back in ’09 (dear gods, really that far back?) and if The Editor is considering publishing it, she’s gonna want an ending.  They like endings.  But even if I just take what I have now and tack the last three chapters on the end, it’s going to end up way shorter on word count than I’m happy with.  So in addition to finishing it, it needs a complete revision.  Recently, I did a revision on the first three chapters, and I’m really happy with that.  I just need to continue from that point, and then jump into the last three chapters when I get there.  Estimated completion date:  Ideally, I’d like this done by the end of the year, so that I can jump into Book 4 of JJD at that point.

Write Book 4 of JJD:  I currently have about 7K words written on this.  If I start my concerted efforts on January 1, I would need to write approximately 24K words a month to finish it by my self-assigned deadline of April 1st and a word count of 80K.  That’s 6K words a week, or 857 words a day on a 7-day writing week.  (for a 5-day writing week, ‘cause I like weekends just like anybody, it works out to 1,200 words a day)  Barring any unexpected divergences (ie: stopping to do revisions on a sold book), this should be an easily accomplished task.  Estimated completion date:  April 1st.

Speak at the RT Convention:  Toward the beginning of May, the RT convention will be here in KC, and I’m slotted to speak on a panel.  I will also be signing books at the huge book signing thingy that they do, and I’m really, really looking forward to it.  It’ll be my first con!  Feel free to locate me and ask my opinion on local barbecue.  Since I imagine that JJD 4 will still be with beta readers at this point, it’ll be a good chance for me to stop, catch my breath, and make more concrete plans for the rest of the year.

Choose a brand new project:  Like I said, I haven’t written anything in over a year.  Nothing I would consider “new”.  So one thing I’d like to do this coming year is to get started on creating something new.  My main potentials are probably a sequel to NoFA, or a sequel to Peacemaker, or maybe, just MAYBE, I might actually go back to The Pugilist and the Alchemist.  A good friend has been helping me hash out the details of that one over the last year, and I finally feel like I’m in a place where I could actually write it.  Estimated completion date:  No idea.  Mostly, I want to do this to at least get me started on creating again.  Whether I complete it this year is up for grabs, especially since at some point, JJD 5 will have to become a priority (and taking into consideration that I may have other books under contract by then)

Get JJD 4 published:   Still not sure what I’m going to do here, precisely.  The way things are going, I’m leaning more toward putting an ebook out first, and then trying to get a paperback in the works a little later.  A lot of it’s going to depend on money, and whether or not I’m brave enough to try the whole Kickstarter thing.  Estimated completion date:  Um…not sure.  But, theoretically, if I can get the type of editing I want on it, and get a good cover created, let’s shoot for the end of 2013.  Don’t hold me to that, folks, I’m just kinda throwing out wishes here.

When you look at it all laid out like that, 2013 looks like a pretty damn busy year.  You have to keep in mind that I’ll be doing all this at the same time that I work a 40-hour week, with an hour of commute time, and then cook/clean/do all the things required to raise a pre-teen daughter.  Oh, and I gotta fit sleep in somewhere.

I can do it.  I’ve done it before.  I just gotta get off my ass.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Measure of Success

First off, let me say how much I truly appreciate the messages of support I’ve received in the last few days.    I truly feel better now than I have in the months since I found out the news.    It’s good to know that there are people who care enough about Jesse to keep following him.

I also find it very interesting how many people have said “That’s okay, I don’t buy print books anyway!”  It ties directly into something I’ve been pondering for a while, and that’s the idea that (for a writer) the measure of success has changed in recent years.  I mean, real recent.  Like, over the last three.

We can all agree that hitting the NYT Bestseller list is a sign of success.  But for most authors, their successes are measured in much smaller increments.  Just getting an agent, for example, or that first book deal.  There’s validation in that, and confirmation that yes, you really don’t suck.

From the time I was a child, the idea of a successful author for me was someone whose books were in bookstores and libraries.  I saw them every time I went into a store, and I always mentally marked the place on the shelf where my name would go. (Had to move down a bit, once I got married and my name changed.)  Those were the people who were REAL authors.  They weren’t like Great Aunt Matilda who paid that company a ton of money to print her rambling diatribe against garden gnomes and their hedonistic ways.

Even as a child, I knew that real authors had publishers and editors, and losers self-published.  And those people who only had writing available on the internet?  Hobbyists at best.  They didn’t have physical books, they were just playing around.

But fast-forward thirty*coughcough* years, and here we are.

Ebooks are becoming more popular every single year.  I can measure the spread of them just by looking at my sales figures.  And self-published books are hitting the NYT Bestseller list.  It’s no longer absolutely necessary (provided that you have the time, skill, and funds) for all literary works to go through major publishers.

What does it all MEAN???

Well, there are smarter people than I who have been batting this one around for years.  What does the advent of ebooks mean for big publishers?  What does the rise in quality self-published works mean for the industry in general?  I think every possible outcome has been kicked around and talked to death, and the fact is, no one knows the answer yet.  We’re all kinda stuck in this big whirlwind of change, and it remains to be seen what part of Oz it’s going to spit us out in. 

I do think, however, that authors will need to reevaluate what they consider “successful.”  Does having a physical book on the shelf mean as much, when many bookstores no longer care a large assortment of stock?  Will print run sizes be important, when ebooks are taking up the bulk of your sales? 

I know that it’s been hard for me to wrap my mind around it.  I’m old-school, apparently.  The thought of “ebook first, print maybe” seemed like a step backwards at first, and I had to sit myself down and point out some facts to myself.

Self, I says to myself, you’re looking at this the wrong way.  The entire industry is now rushing to catch up to a demand that technology created, and you may actually be in on the first wave of something new and totally awesome!

Do I think big publishers will ever go by the wayside altogether?  Of course not.  Personally, I LIKE having a publisher. I like having an amazing editor, and someone to take care of the cover design, and all that tricksy formatting and such.  Every moment they do that is a moment I can be doing something else, like writing, or talking about writing, or thinking about writing.  Or playing video games.  I admit it, I do that sometimes too.  I know diddly about cover art design (it’s more than just taking a pretty picture, folks) or ebook formatting, or…well, I know diddly about a lot of stuff.  That’s why you guys might very well be getting a crayon stick-figure for a cover on the next JJD book.  (I wouldn’t really do that. I think.)

But I think that physical books on shelves and monster print runs will no longer be the measure of how successful an author is.  Instead, we might get to measure it by how many readers truly loved the books, and I think it should probably have been that way all along. 

In which case, I’m pretty damn successful, because there are a TON of you who love Jesse.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Been needing to write up this blog post for some time, and kept putting it off.  Partly because I didn’t want it to overshadow Wolf’s release, and mostly because… Well, once you write it, it’s true.  I think Doctor Who said something like that.  Reading it makes it a fixed point in time.

A lot of you have been asking about the future of the JJD series (mostly involving statements like “You can’t leave him like that!!!”)  Even my own grandmother called me up the other night to tell me that exact thing.  Some of you, I’ve even lied to your face when you asked, because it wasn’t a discussion I was able to have at that moment.  (I’m truly sorry about that)  I’ve known about this for several months, you see.

Well, the sad news is, Roc has decided that my sales aren’t good enough to continue publishing the series.  They’re not even good enough to consider a digital-only option.  So, the JJD series with Roc is ended.

I’m disappointed, naturally, but I also feel like I’ve let a lot of people down.  There are a ton of fans who have become so invested in Jesse and Axel and the rest of the weirdos that I love so much.  Part of me knows that sales are what sales are, and there’s a limited amount I can do about it.  The other part keeps wondering what I could have done better, sooner, to get the word out, to get more people to buy.

Every day, it seems, I hear from someone who had never heard of Jesse before, and I keep thinking, dang, if you’d have heard of it two years ago when the first one came out, maybe I wouldn’t be in this position.  Maybe…what if… mighta could.  Y’know how it is.


Two other pieces of news for you on the subject. 

First, I have NO intention of leaving Jesse in this state.  I need three more books to finish up the series the way I want to.  I’ve already started writing book 4.  My intention is to look into self-publishing the last three, possibly funded with a Kickstarter project early next year.  I’m still researching all the details and such.  There would be quite a bit involved with publishing this book the way I want to see it published, and the way I think you all deserve to see it published.

So, since I have no official deadline, and no one to answer to, you guys are now my conscience.  My goal is to have Book 4 written (and titled) by April 1st (barring any unforeseen circumstances which I shall discuss below).  After that, I’ll need to really start putting things in motion regarding a Kickstarter project, rewards for contributors, that sort of thing.  (cover design, editing, ISBN numbers, the list goes on and on.) I’ve learned a lot in the last few months regarding all that goes into self-publishing things the right way, and it’s way harder than I ever realized.  Makes me appreciate all that my actual publisher does even more.

And speaking of, the next bit of news:
My editor at Roc still wants to work with me (and I still want to work with her, ‘cause she’s awesome and I love her).  So at the moment, she has both Peacemaker and a few chapters of A Night of Fire and Ash sitting on her desk.  We’re still in the discussion stage, not in the “official offer” stage, but I’m 90% sure you’ll be seeing a new series from me in the future.  Most likely, expect to see an ebook first, then if sales warrant, a print book later on.  The more I talk to other authors in my genre, the more this seems to be the norm.

(And frankly, seeing how my ebook sales have gone since the release of Wolf, I’m starting to understand why.  Ebooks are really becoming a thing!)  ((Yes, I know this makes me sound old.  Get off my lawn.))

Right now, I’m back at the “hurry up and wait” phase of the publishing game.  Authors spend way more time here than you folk know, even after they have an agent, and a contract under their belt.