(Here I am rocking my new glasses)
I didn’t spend a lot of time blogging in 2015.
I’m of mixed feelings on it because I’d rather be writing something new that might possibly manage to get published and frankly, I’ve been a very cranky person for about a year and a half now – not sure why. I’m trying to change that.
I did, however, complete a new book which is now with my agent. I think it’s very good. Possibly the best thing I’ve written so far. We’ve got one project we’ve been trying to sell but it’s urban fantasy and that’s a tough one these days. That said, I’m thankful to the good folks at Rebelight Publishing for making my first foray into middle grade by publishing my little story about a girl, her hippie granny and missing cats in the fall, so that was good news. It’s been hard as hell to get reviews for TO CATCH A CAT THIEF. I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve sent physical copies to traditional media here in Canada but there hasn’t been a nibble of interest which is a bit of a puzzle to me. The whole issue of discoverability for an author has been on my mind a lot lately and I honestly can’t figure out what makes people take notice of a new book. I could write a book filled with hints and tips from so many different writers both traditionally published and self-published about how they made their books a success, and I’ve tried a few of them but it’s been a hard slog.
I don’t believe blog tours work one bit and a number of author friends of mine are of the same opinion. Hiring a publicist might be a good option for some but we authors aren’t exactly swimming in cash these days. I think I would have hired a publicist for my latest book but I just can’t afford to do it. So you try to get the word out the best way you can in between writing and working your day job. Six of my seven books have been traditionally published. I have rights back to SHADE FRIGHT, FUNERAL PALLOR, UNSEEN WORLD and I’ve self published them. I also have the rights back to POLTERGEEKS and STUDENT BODIES and I hope to get them out there as reprints. There was to be a third book – END GAMES. I’d like to finish it but I’m not going to until I know where the first two books stand.
To date, my best selling books are MARSHALL CONRAD – A SUPERHERO TALE & THE NORTH. Both are self-published, the first being a reprint and the second being an original work. I actually sell enough of both books that I get real money in the form of a cheque from Amazon every month. Like, more than enough to buy a few tanks of gas and fill the fridge with groceries. The irony is that I don’t do any book promotion for these titles. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
So – stuff that I promote doesn’t sell. Stuff that I self-publish and don’t promote does sell. I truly must be living in Bizarro World.
I started a writer’s group here in Saskatoon about two years ago. There’s a core group of about 8-10 of us and they’re a great bunch of people. This year we self-published an anthology. The goal was to get everyone writing outside of their comfort zone and for those participants who submitted stories, I have to say Well Done! Well Done Indeed! You worked hard at something. You committed to a project and deadlines and editing and everything that goes with getting published. Some even discovered they were better writers than they gave themselves credit for. Go buy our little anthology, won’t you?
So, not the most inspiring end of the year blog posting. I keep hoping to write that elusive breakthrough novel. Maybe we will with the new one. It’s dark fantasy – sort of Kill Bill’s The Bride meets The Sixth Sense meets Sons of Anarchy. A train wreck of a protagonist and a shock ending. I’m quite proud of it. I’m very blessed to have the world’s most supportive wife. She puts up with my weird writing hours and my bouts of melancholy that I do battle with whenever I feel like I’m slipping.
What am I working on right now? I’m experimenting with a detective novel but it’s not really lighting my world on fire. Just doesn’t feel right. I might shelve it for a while. I have another project I”m about 20K words into now – a YA detective story featuring a brother-sister sleuth team. They hunt serial killers.
Anyway, that’s it for 2015. If you’ve been following my sporadic blog posts, thanks you. I’ll try to write more in 2016. If you bought one of my books this year, thank you, thank you, thank you!
My best to you and yours in the new year.
(I basically wore this face all year)
Dear baby Jesus, please let 2015 be better than 2014 because this has been my hardest year as a writer.
2014 had Strange Chemistry Books going bye-bye back on June 20th leaving all their authors left to muddle through a shit show on an intergalactic scale. I had a project I’d just pitched to them a week before, too – oh well – it’s six months after and I’m still waiting to get my rights back for Poltergeeks and Student Bodies.
Will there be a third book? Right now, I’d like to say yes but I still need the old rights back before I decide to survey the lay of the land. In truth, I’d like to get the pair of books out as reprints with another publisher but I’m not against self-publishing them instead. More to follow on that front, yo.
I became a bona-fide hybrid author in 2014, self-publishing all my back list on Amazon and Smashwords. It’s brings me in a couple of hundred bucks a month in cash money so let’s just say that self-publishing your old stuff generates enough for a car payment. I can’t say anything bad about the experience other than it’s a huge learning curve and discoverability is the biggest BIGGEST challenge because Amazon is so damned flooded with self-published books. And it makes me wonder what a guy has to do to get noticed? I’m thinking a YouTube show with me in my underpants smoking a cigar and talking books. Call it “Old Fat Bald Guy Book Reviews” – cue the Masterpiece Theater theme in the background.
I also self-published a new book, THE NORTH. I made it free for a couple of weeks to see if that will garner any reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. I’m convinced the key to discoverability on Amazon is reviews. What I did learn is that by making the book free, there was NO bump in sales to my other books. Draw your own conclusions with that.
I’ve had a bit of writer’s block this year. I think brought on because of constant worry about getting rights back, my career as an author and working my tail off getting stuff onto Amazon and Smashwords. So a bit of a break from that in 2015 I hope as I’ve been writing like mad over the last month and I’ve got a few new ideas brewing away.
2014 did show me that I have some amazing, wonderful and supportive friends in publishing, though. Every single author from Strange Chemistry has been a class act despite losing out on forthcoming books and the associated trauma of a publishing house shutting its doors. We have been in constant contact with each other since June.
Strange Chemistry published books by the following authors. These are fantastic, amazing, talented people wholly deserving of your support. Do order one of their books, won’t you?
On the plus side of things, I’m still plugging along. I do have forthcoming book news … it’s kind of fun and happy. Just say the word “psychedelic” and keep saying it until I announce. A small ray of light in an otherwise crummy year. And yesterday I got some other super pre-advance preliminary forthcoming book news on a project that is very near and dear to me. I have to do a bunch of emailing today. More to come on that front, too.
I also have a core group of wickedly talented authors in my writer’s group, Saskatoon Writer’s Meetup. I would be freaking lost without them. They’re just brilliant people, so a shout-out to:
Nicole, Courteny, Pearce, Cynthia, Jenna, Elizabeth, Jen, David, Anita and Rachel Astor (who is a bestselling author so go buy her books.)
Well, there you have it. Some good news at the end of a downer of a year. I’m fortunate to have great friends, and amazing wife who supports me as I muddle through the ups and downs of being a published author. I still haven’t written that breakthrough novel yet. So … come on 2015. I hope to hell it’s a great year for you and yours.
Happy New Year!
Well, that’s it for another year. The older I get, the faster they blow by. Still, 2011 was a really productive year for me. January saw the release of UNSEEN WORLD (which I hope will be available as an e-book in no short order.) I also wrote TIM REAPER and just this morning, I sent off THE NORTH to my agent. I’ll look forward to doing revisions on both before we get down to the business of trying to sell them. (Yeah, I know – I actually said I look forward to revisions.)
I’m thankful for a lot of things that happened in 2011 – here’s a short list:
1) I’m thankful that I wrote two books – I didn’t know I had it in me.
2) I’m thankful to my faithful beta readers who have helped me throughout the year with both projects.
3) I’m thankful to have a great literary agent and a great literary agent’s assistant. Without them, I would go nuts.
4) I’m thankful to those who bought my books in 2011 and who took time to send me an email asking when the next book is coming out.
5) I’m thankful to have moved to a better house in a way better neighborhood.
6) I’m thankful to my better half, Cheryl, and my family for all their support. Without their encouragement, I don’t think I would be able to write a damned thing.
7) I’m thankful to have such fantastic friends who are published: Wayne Simmons, Nancy Holzner, Erin Kellison, Linda Poitevin, Thomas Emson, Neil Godbout, Darren J. Guest – all great authors with great books so, you know, go buy one!
8) I’m thankful to readers of this blog – thanks for stopping by from time to time.
9) I’m thankful to book bloggers who reviewed my books in 2011
10) And finally, I’m thankful to have rediscovered the joy of watching football (as in soccer). I used to follow it years and years and years ago. The World Cup this year reignited my love of the sport and I’m watching Barclay’s Premier League games basically every weekend now on the dish. (Go Spurs!)
Here’s to a great 2011 and I want to wish you and yours a happy, successful and safe 2012. Happy New Year everyone!