Become a Bestselling Author!

Cyberpunk Girl

Okay, no… that’s not really what this post is about. One of the writing groups I belong to had the question “Is becoming a bestselling author a dream or a goal for you?”. My answer was neither (which is a bit unfair, since the group is specifically about becoming a bestselling author)…

My answer was that I wanted to sell a few copies of a lot of books. Sure, having a book become a bestseller would be amazing and incredibly validating, but I’m good with writing a lot of books and having people who like them buy them even if not that many people know about them. That’s my ultimate goal, to have people like my stories enough that they buy all of my books, even when I have dozens on the market.

Is that goal realistic? If I work at it I could probably do six to eight books a year. That means it will take around three years to twenty books (give or take a few months). At twenty books I should be able to earn a decent living, if not an extravagant one.

So, long-term, I want to earn my living from that process.

In the meantime, I have work I do day to day, as well as the work I do for writing and marketing. Sometimes that work takes up a lot of time.

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Dreams

A Highway With No One On It

Well, I’m working on getting everything ready for the show in April. I have one book on the market, but I will hopefully be launching three (three!) more at the Geequinox, two of which will be the first two books of the Jenny Dark series.

This is ambitious but possible. I have an editor selected, and I have the writing mostly done. The second draft of A Long Walk is well on its way and the first draft of book two of Jenny Dark is complete. The first draft of Jenny Dark book one is more than halfway – although I did lose my place a little bit, which slowed me down. I’m back to speed on that one, I know where I left off and I’m catching up.

Anyway, the point is that I will have four books with me at the Geequinox, sitting on my table (I might have a fifth, but probably not).

I don’t know if I will sell all my books or even most of my books. I’m going to take a risk on it, dream big and hope people like my little stories.

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Managing my Publishing and Writing Queue

A Pond. I think this is Madrid.

One thing I didn’t have to think about when I started this whole writing thing was which project I wrote when. It was easy. I had one book. I wrote it, edited it, and then published it.

Now I’m writing multiple series of books, and there are also several stand-alone books I’m working on.

I need to track what I’m writing, what status things are in. Also, I’ve started finishing works in progress that I started years ago. Hell, the Jenny Dark series started well over a decade ago. I didn’t ever write it, just built the world. Now I have a finished novel and another one that’s a fair ways in (more than a third, less than a half).

I have four books in editing right now. Seriously, four!

That’s ridiculous. Of course one of them is already published and I’m just trying to revamp it, make it better. The other three are all past first draft and need to be polished before they hit beta readers.

I have a category of story that shouldn’t exist. It only does because I’m working on these older stories that I started years ago. That status is “Started, needs outline”. No new story will ever have that because the outline will exist before I start writing the story. In my current queue, I have four in that status, although I technically have a few more – I just haven’t decided if I’m going to finish those ones or not.

Now, eventually, I’m going to add word counts to my document so that anything that’s started has a word count. Also, I should only have one book in the started condition at any time. Right now I have five.

The plan is that over time I will have one book in editing, one in publishing, one in writing, one in outline, and a bunch that are planned – a basic plot idea, stuff like that.

As I write this I’m realising things I’m missing. The big one is going to be ISBN’s. I need to start tracking them more carefully. Damnit, I need a whole bunch more fields. Time to add some sheets to my spreadsheet. One category per sheet. Okay, this has been very helpful. Good talk.

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Arrogance and the Self Improvement Movement

A Randomly Occurring Upside Down Cross

I know one of the reasons I don’t get more attention on Medium. I mean, there could be lots of others, but this is one.

What I write on Medium focuses on me. This is because of arrogance.

Not the way you think though. I’m arrogant sometimes, but not about my writing. I’m insecure as hell about my writing, and if I were to say “This is how you should be doing things” I would feel like that was unwarranted arrogance. Instead what I have to offer is honesty. This is what I have tried that worked, this is what I tried that caused me to fall flat on my face.

At least I’m consistent. I read people in the self-improvement sphere, and I find them incredibly arrogant. There are exceptions. Kris Gage strikes me as humble – of course she mostly talks about herself and her relationships.

Yann Girard too. He talks about himself a lot, about what worked for him, and what failed. I haven’t tried out too much of his stuff, but I’m starting to. He’s a decent writer, and I like his approach.

The one that bugs me the most is Benjamin Hardy. Now, I will freely admit that jealousy probably plays a role in that. He’s got a reach that’s in the millions, and he’s clearly done very well for himself while being quite a bit younger than I am… everything about him just seems so smug though. That’s a public persona, and my reaction to it probably stems from the fact that I wish I was in his position. It’s also worth noting that I have found large portions of his advice valuable, even though I have a deep dislike of anyone who treats friendships as units of utility and recommends that you only have friends who benefit you in some way. Also, because I do follow a lot of people who know Benjamin Hardy I hear them talk about him, and they all say good things about him. Maybe he’s actually an incredibly nice guy and I malign him for no reason (okay, probably). I did say honesty was the only thing I had to offer right?

It’s something about sounding like you have the answers that really bugs me. Maybe because I know I don’t have the answers, I know that I’m still trying to find all the right questions, a task that I expect will take me my entire life. Anyway, whatever the cause, I don’t think any of us really have the answers, we just have the answers that have worked for us so far, if we are lucky.

Then again, maybe I don’t like the answers. See, I’m a storyteller. I write because I have these stories in my head that I want to communicate. The answers a lot of folks in the self-improvement community seem to have started with “find out what your audience wants and write that”. I could, but it would destroy the whole reason I’m trying to pursue this career, I’m trying to tell these stories. There is no other elements, just the stories. Sure, I would like telling these stories to be the thing that I do for a living, and I think it’s possible, but if I’m not telling the stories I want to tell I might as well go back to writing software.

Maybe it’s the same for you, maybe you don’t want to be a “success”, maybe you aren’t arrogant enough to think you already have the answers. If that’s the case, please join me, and let’s see if we can come up with a way to do this as storytellers, not “Authorpreneurs”.

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Journalism and Personal Issues

Rpcks on a beach

This weekend I’m more focused on my magazine job than on my novel writing job because I’m covering a music festival here in Halifax.  It’s taking up a fair bit of time.

At the same time, I’m dealing with some personal stuff that I won’t get into here. Anyway, the long and the short of it is I expect to not make my word count for a few days, at least not in the fiction area. I will probably at least match if not exceed my word count, but it will be my journalism stuff that I’m doing.

I’m giving myself permission to do this, if only for a very limited time.

By the time this goes live I should be back to my regularly scheduled writing.

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Nic Styx

A Dame in a Dress Pointing a Gun

Nic Styx is a private eye. He’s hard-boiled and tough as they come. He likes his women hot and his whiskey cheap. Only one problem: he doesn’t live in that sort of world. Nic lives in the mid-twenty-first century, not the mid-twentieth. His world is one of ubiquitous computer technology and gleaming cybernetics.

Nic maintains his practice anyway, with the occasional financial contribution from his wealthy parents who just want their son to follow his passion, although they aren’t crazy about him changing his last name. What was wrong with Nicholas Parsons anyway?

Nic is legitimate though, he’s good at his job and is probably the person you most want to count on when the chips are down. For Nic, the chips are almost always down.

The series is a serious piece of noir fiction, but with elements of comedy and cyberpunk.

I thought of the character as an advertising gimmick for a product I had designed but never bothered to create. The idea took off though, I liked the character too much to let him go. He’s faking it through life, trying to be something he’s not, but he’s been doing it for so long that now it’s who he actually is and he doesn’t even remember the person he was before.

Nic may be my favourite character I’ve ever created. The first book is a fair ways in, but it isn’t my current work in progress. The process of creating the novel is going to take me a while, I have to interpret my handwriting to do it. I have notebooks full of story, handwritten in pen, from many years ago.

Like Jenny Dark and World of the Dead, nicstyx.com is coming soon. I just have to build it.

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World of the Dead

Zombies Shopping

My first novel was the first book in the World of the Dead series. It’s a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested hellhole. Book 1, A Long Walk (available for free on Amazon as well as in chapter form on this website)

The series as a whole takes place much further in the future. Twenty years pass between book 1 and book 2. The zombies rule most of the world, leaving it uninhabitable to humanity. A city stands alone on a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean. This city, built on the remnants of an old one, is called New Hope.

As the population of the city grows, due to survivors finding it and humans doing what humans do and bringing new life, it becomes clear that they don’t have the resources to support all these people. A force is formed to take back areas from the dead.

Much of the series is about this force, brave men and women fighting to reclaim our world. There are other parts though, a second planned series called Tales from the Last City is about life in New Hope, and is noir-tinged, although with an element of survival horror.

The final series is just called World of the Dead and consists of strange things I feel like writing. I have one story from that series coming out in an anthology of new writers soon (link to come as soon as the collection is published).

There will be much more information soon on world-of-the-dead.com, but I have to build the site first, so not quite yet.

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Jenny Dark

A Fence with Wire

Normally I don’t talk a lot about my works until they are published, but I’ve decided to change that. How much am I changing that? I’m creating websites for three of my series. Should be up in the next few weeks. Jenny Dark is my current Work in Progress. Well, Jenny Dark book 1 at least.

I’m very proud of the concept work I’ve done for Jenny Dark, the world building, the creative direction. The execution? Well, I’m still in the middle of that. I think I’m proud of it, but we’ll see. It’s still under ten thousand words at this point. It’s the most heavily outlined I’ve ever written, with each scene in the entire novel sitting in my editing software, with a short synopsis saying why I have it there. Most scenes are of course still empty.

The novel should be between seventy-five and eighty thousand words.

The basic premise is a sort of Sherlock Holmes meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer deal. A couple of young women fight the forces of evil as the last line of defence the world has. The mythology is complex and detailed, the most complex and detailed I’ve created to date (there is technically more data on World of the Dead, but that’s because I ran a GURPS campaign based on it, much of it is more play related than story).

Anyway, coming soon jennydark.com (when I finish building it I will convert this to an actual link).

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Obsessing Over Stats

The Portuguese Countryside

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with numbers. Specifically the stats for my author platform (which just means my blog, my facebook page, all that good stuff). Right now my primary focus as an author (other than the writing of course) is building this platform so that when I drop Resource Economies people can find it, can buy it, all that goodness.

As a result, I’m getting a bit weird about checking my stats. How many hits did I get on my blog each day? How many subscribers to my mailing list? What’s working to bring people in and what isn’t? How many people is my facebook page reaching? How about my twitter?

Now, I know this obsession is probably not healthy, and it’s definitely not helping. Hell, some days it gets in the way of writing my word count, but it’s still there in my brain. I am not even in a rush, I don’t have the second edition cover of A Long Walk yet, I don’t have the edits done, it’s fluff and noise right now, but I’m so focused on making this writing thing work that it’s hard to get it out of my head.

I think it’s a natural consequence of going all in on something like I have, and I know that it will work better if I let it go a little bit, if I relax and let the writing happen.

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