Resolutions

2016-new-yearI’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. I think if you’re going to do a thing then the best time to start is right now. Forget that “I’ll wait until Monday” or “I’ll do it next month” nonsense; just cut the shit and start already.

It ain’t gonna be any easier come Monday.

That said, I do look at the new year as a clean slate of sorts. More of a planning timeframe, if you will. An accounting period.

I wrote more than a quarter million words in 2015, with 75% of those words written between August and December. In other words, I fucked around for the first seven months of the year before figuring out how to be productive.

But that’s all good now because it’s given me a blueprint for the future. I write 1,500 words per day and at that rate I’m on track to write more than a half-million words by year end. Crazy to think one can do so much by working on it an hour a day. That’s why I always say that it’s about consistency and not speed.

The theme for 2016 is writing. Write better. Write often. Write more.

I’m not sure exactly what I’ll have completed by year end since I work on projects that suit my mood at the time. So when a book is done I consider what mood I’m in, pick an idea, and run with it until it’s complete. After that, I do it again.

What I write depends on the mood. That I write is predetermined.

I’m considering doing some short fiction and packaging it up in a collection for next year. I have an idea for six short stories, all unique but built from the same inciting event. That’s a short story every other month…pretty doable.

I’ll be publishing Badlands #3, my Mothman book and my weird western this year. Probably the next Yesterday In Black book too. After that, who knows? Maybe I’ll write that sci-fi book I’ve been thinking about or a sequel to The Crossover Gene. It’s a blank slate, after all.

So check back later and I’ll keep you up to date. Sign up for my newsletter if you like; you get a free book after all. And don’t forget to buy my crap while you’re at it.

Weekly Digest, Episode 1

Well, look at that. Here’s the first weekly post. I’m one for one, right out of the gate. ūüôā

Let’s talk about the last several months to get up to speed here. Here are my word counts, totaled by month, since I started Chris Fox’s “sprint” methodology (August is low because it’s not a full month; only 20 days):

  • August: 31,275
  • September: 46,523
  • October: 42,226
  • November: 42,597

December is sitting at nearly 34,000 words (I’ll probably hit 39-40k by end of month).

Let’s talk about this past week’s counts (12/20 – 12/26):

  • Sunday: 1,203 words, 2 sprints
  • Monday: 1,418 words, 2 sprints
  • Tuesday: 1,015 words, 2 sprints
  • Wednesday: 1,556 words, 2 sprints
  • Thursday: 1,485 words, 2 sprints
  • Friday: 751 words, 1 sprint
  • Saturday: 930 words, 2 sprints

Total: 8,358

Friday was Christmas, but I wrote. How did I do it? I only did one sprint instead of two (it was Christmas, after all), but 30 minutes is easy to fit in. My wife took a nap and the kids were busy playing with their new crap. I sat down for 30 minutes and worked, simple as that. Then I took the rest of the day off.

If you didn’t read my other posts about sprinting, here are the Cliff’s Notes: a sprint for me is thirty minutes of uninterrupted writing time. I close the office doors, put on some music, figure out my next scene, set a timer and start writing. (In a later post¬†I’ll go into more detail on what a typical day looks like for me, but for now this gets the point across.)

You can see some days I struggled with the words. Some days are harder than others. Just a fact of life. It doesn’t excuse me from putting in the time and hitting the quota.

See, my quotas are sprint counts, not word counts. That’s critical to remember.

I set a quota of two sprints per day. Rarely do I ever miss. I gave myself a break on Christmas, for example, but I still wrote. I strive to write every day.¬†I’m currently at 41 consecutive days without a miss, my longest streak ¬†yet.

I used to set a quota of 1,000 words per day. Once I hit it, I’d quit it.¬†That produced fewer words in the end.¬†By setting quotas around sprints (duration) I don’t artificially limit myself to a word count.

I break my sprints into 30 minute intervals. That’s about the longest I prefer to sit and peck away at a scene or chapter. Yours could be longer or shorter. I get up in between, usually to take¬†a shower and think about my next scene, then I sit back down and get sprint #2 finished. After that, I’m done for the day.

Why only two sprints per day, you ask? With my schedule that’s good for me. It keeps me productive while not burning me out. I tend to be a workaholic, so if I don’t put a cap on things I’ll burn too hot and too fast. Two sprints nets me an average of 1,500 words per day. That consistency is key, but that’s a topic for another post.

How did you do last week? If you wrote more than 8,000 words then congrats, you’re better than I am. Or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you wrote a thousand or so. Less? Maybe you didn’t write at all.

But…but…the holidays…family…work…responsibilities…porn…[insert excuse here].

That’s okay, let it go. The past is gone, so focus on the future. Remember, your future starts tomorrow; not next year, not next month. Tomorrow. Hell, today if you like.

Regardless of when¬†you start it, your future should not include excuses. We’ll talk about that later too.

I’ll be back next week with more rambling, word counts and random crap. Until then, if you read, keep reading. If you write, keep writing and reading.

More In 2016

I’ll probably spend more time here in 2016. I’ll shoot for weekly posts, give or take, to give you some insight into what I’m doing and how it’s working. If you’re a reader, maybe you’ll get some insight into how I write the books. Maybe that’ll interest you, maybe not.

If you’re a writer, then maybe my lessons learned can also help you. I’m not a bestseller and I’m not an old pro, but I’m a full-time career person with a family who writes at a pace of six novels a year. So if you’ve been making excuses about why you “don’t have time” to write or writing feels more like work than fun or you just can’t squeeze out more than a book every other year then maybe my experiences can inspire you.

Or maybe just piss you off enough to actually write. That still counts as inspiration, right?

I’ve written eight novels. One of them will never see the light of day (you guessed it, my first novel). Three of them are finished, but waiting to go out to my editor. The rest are ready for you to buy. I also have some novellas and short stories out there. Buy those too.

I got back into writing five years ago and made out like a bandit during the “Kindle Gold Rush”. I’ve survived the sales decline after those glory days and I’m still hanging on after the “KU Apocalypse”. I’ve seen other writers come and go in the past five years, but I’m still here. I’m tenacious, if nothing else.

2016 will be all about production for me. No focus on marketing my books or frenetic sales checking. No worrying about sales rank and all that business. With my mind laser-focused on writing new words, we’ll explore that in depth.

I’ll talk about consistency and I’ll share word counts. I’ll talk about rewriting traps and bold choices, about making self-doubt my bitch and staying focused on things that matter (and ignoring things that don’t).

I’ll piss on uppity attitudes about “real literature” and being a “hack” and “writing fast”. I’ll talk about why consistent is better than fast. I’ll talk about the hard truths I’ve learned from this business and the craft of writing itself. And more. All kinds of stuff to talk about.

If that sounds like your kinda thing, then tag along. 2016 is going to be a fun year.

Productivity 2.0

Recently¬†I raved about Chris Fox’s brilliant “sprint” method of writing, an approach¬†that has allowed me to quadruple my output of new fiction words. I thought it would be a good idea to post those word counts here so that others could see just how doable it is.

So here are screenshots of my spreadsheet, broken down by the partial month of August and up through the most recent day of September:

sprint_screen_shot_Aug

sprint_screenshot_Sep

After a month of this approach I can say that I’m just as motivated as I was when I started. In fact, I might even be more excited about it now, especially after I’ve seen what I can accomplish.

I’m also finding that I’m producing better first drafts because of¬†writing faster. I can keep more of the story in my head due to the fact that I’m so consistently (and recently) involved with it. I can immerse myself in the world each and every day, until the story is finished. This, by the way, also makes the writing fun, the whole reason for doing this in the first place.

Where I’m finding that I’m slowing down is in the revisions. Because I keep feeding the “word machine” fresh outlines each morning, I’m producing more content than I can revise. I don’t know that I’ve cracked that particular nut quite yet, but I’m leaning toward Dean Wesley Smith’s approach of little to no revision. Yeah, I know. Writing is rewriting and all that jazz…or maybe it’s not. Think on that one for a while.

I think I’m going to try the first draft/one revision approach and be done with it. After that it’ll go off to my editor. Maybe it won’t be “perfect” (whatever that is),¬†but perfect is boring. And who the hell wants to read a boring book?

I’ll update later and let you know how this approach continues to work out. Until next time stay well and¬†buy my crap.

Brian J. Jarrett 2.0

2015 has been a year of change for me. I’ve altogether given up drinking sugary soda, began exercising regularly, cut back my food consumption and I’ve forced myself to get more sleep. I’ve dropped more than twenty pounds, I don’t catch a¬†cold every month and I can sit down without having to unbutton my pants to allow room for my gut.

But with all these improvements in my life, I still struggled with my writing. I procrastinated too much. I produced very little. Most days, I’d been lucky to hit 500 words. And I surely didn’t write every day. Up until last month, I was averaging around 350 words per day.

You don’t get too many novels written at that pace.

Up until the beginning of August, I was happy with 500 in a day. 1,000 words and I felt like I was pretty well on track. 1,200 words? Well, shit. I was on fire. Writing every single day, without a miss? Unheard of and impossible.

Now, if I were to write 500 words every single day, I’d be¬†working at a snail’s pace.

How the hell did this change so drastically? Well, I’m glad you asked. A writer friend of mine, Keith C. Blackmore, told me about this book he’d read recently called 5,000 Words Per Hour¬†by Chris Fox. He said it helped him write more words and have more fun doing it. I figured, what the hell? I’ll check it out. So I bought it and read it while on vacation in Florida last month.

With all the positive changes I’ve made in my habits this year, I’d been planning on working to improve my productivity anyway, so the timing was perfect. I cracked open the book and a light bulb went off for me. I decided I’d start applying the techniques to my own writing when I got back home and back into my regular routine.

On the first day I tried it, I wrote 1,800 new words in a single hour.

Since then I’ve written every single day and I’m bursting up to 2,200 words an hour.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t. And it’s not even that difficult. It required some changes to my routine and adopting a writing approach that centers around the concept of “sprints”. A sprint (in Chris’s terms) is a set period of time in which you write as hard and fast as you can. You don’t even stop to fix spelling errors.¬†It’s critical to¬†perform these sprints at¬†a time of day when you will not be interrupted and to have your novel’s scenes plotted out (which is the way I already do it).

I get up at 4:45 a.m. Monday through Friday and do two, thirty-minute sprints. I get anywhere between 1,500 to 2,200 words out of this hour. On weekends I write at least two sprints, usually more. All while working a full-time career and actually spending time with my wife and kids. Ta-dow.

If you are a writer and you want to improve your speed and productivity, BUY CHRIS’S¬†BOOK. Seriously. He goes into all the necessary detail while not boring you with bullshit. It’s changed my life and has unlocked a well of creativity and productivity that I didn’t think was possible.

Having said that, you know where I’m going. I’m producing like a maniac. So far since adopting this method a month ago, I’ve written 48,000 new words. I finished the first draft of my Badlands novel Vengeance In the Badlands and I’m almost finished with a 40,000 word crime novella that I’ll be releasing before the end of this year. That’ll be finished by next week, after which I’ll knock out the last book in my Badlands trilogy, Out of the Badlands.

The Badlands books are messy in first draft because of all the wheel spinning I did earlier in the year. I also wrote most of the manuscripts without an outline, which was a royal pain in the ass. I tried, man, I tried, but goddamn it’s tedious, slow and NOT FUN AT ALL. And if I’m not having fun, well what the hell is the point?

So what does this mean to you as a reader? Well, brother, it means I got a lot more shit coming your way. It’s looking like I might have three books out this year. Wrap your head around that one: three book in a single year! Unprecedented for me. It also means that since I’m not stuck in the mud anymore I’ll be able to write a bunch of other books that I’ve been planning and just haven’t gotten too. And the books are better because I’m getting through them so fast and keeping all the scenes and plot points¬†top of mind. When you spend a year writing a book, you forget half the shit you wrote at the beginning of the year and end up rewriting the hell out of it later on. That’s slow, slow, slow progress, my friend.

On a side note, I’ve also let go of a lot of the fear and self-doubt that was holding me back. I just don’t give a shit anymore and it’s wonderful. I write, I create and I have a lot of fun doing it. I think this epiphany for me is worth its own post. You’re also going to see a bit more of myself coming through on this blog, four-letter words and all. So get out now if that sort of thing bothers you. You really shouldn’t be reading my books anyway if that’s the case. They’ll just end up pissing you off.

So stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Better yet, sign up for my mailing list and be the first to know when my new shit hits the virtual shelves. Plus I’ll give you a free book just for signing up.

Until next time, take it easy. And while you’re at it, buy my shit.

 

Alive and Writing

With 2015 nearly half over, it seems an update is well overdue. The lack of updates this year isn’t so much about nothing happening, but more about there not really being any real milestones reached (or none that I thought to be worthy of a post). ¬†I think I’m far enough along on things to talk about them now, so here we go…

Badlands Book Three

The good news is that the manuscript for third book in my Badlands trilogy–Out of the Badlands–is halfway to completion. I hit 50k words this week and I expect the manuscript to clock in around 100k words. So far I’m on track to deliver the book by end of year. I’m really, really working hard to make that happen because I don’t want to delay its release again (it’s already going to be published a year later than I originally planned).

Another Badlands Novel

Around the beginning of last year I nearly finished the manuscript for another Badlands novel called Vengeance In the Badlands. The novel follows one of the main characters after the events that took place in book #2, but the story goes on its own tangent and thusly falls outside the trilogy. The good news is that because its already so far along I think I’ll be able¬†to release it later this year, directly on the heels of¬†book #3. Keep your eyes peeled for that or make it easy on yourself and sign up for my newsletter so that I can¬†let you know about all my new releases (you’ll also receive a free ebook for signing up).

Other Works

I have a couple of other projects in the pipeline. These won’t be released until next year, but I’ve done some work on them already. I’m planning a novella crime series about a damaged guy who hunts down serial killers and I’ll be concurrently working on a new novel. I have a few ideas in the works for said novel, but it’s too early to say which one will grab my attention. It’ll be a surprise for both of us, I suppose. ūüôā

Sales & Marketing

Sales continue to be mediocre, even on Amazon. I’ve seen sales really climb on Kobo and Barnes & Noble is holding a steady third place. After my experience in Select at the end of last year, I won’t be heading down that path again anytime soon. Right now I only have two short stories in Select; for me it just doesn’t work for my novels.

I did, however, temporarily reduce the price of my first Badlands book to $.99 for a few months on all platforms. It really helped to move some additional copies, anywhere between two to three times more. But like any¬†sale, the price has to go back up again or it’s not really a sale. Still, book one is a dollar cheaper than the rest of the books to make it just a little easier to pull the trigger and give the series a try.¬†When book #3 and the standalone novel are released, I’ll probably run another sale on book #1, dropping it to $.99 again. I might even try to get a Bookbub ad to see if I can move some copies.

That’s about all for now. Remember, if you enjoy my work the best thing you can do to help is tell your friends. And if you really want to be super helpful, leave a review. It really does make a difference.

2014 Wrap Up

Believe it or not, 2014 is gone. Today is the last day of the year, so it seemed fitting to wrap up the year for me with what I’ve learned and what I have planned for¬†2015.

KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited

I didn’t have much luck with Kindle Unlimited. I opted all my titles in in October and saw total borrows across all seven titles reach around 30 each month. My sales went down and my revenue went way down (a 30-40% drop).

I think the mistake I made was going all in with my entire catalog. The borrows and the revenue simply weren’t there and with 40% of my sales coming from outside Amazon, I lost my ass.

I don’t necessarily think the program is inherently ¬†flawed, outside of requiring exclusivity. I think it’s great for short works and for some of the titles in my catalog. I still think it’s valuable to use Select when first launching a new title, depending on the reader base.

I just released a new $.99 short story, exclusive to Amazon and KDP Select. I’ve opted all my other titles out of Select. For 2015 I’ll utilize Select selectively (no pun intended) if at all. With Amazon no longer performing for me as it once did, I just can’t go all in and ignore the other sales channels.

Productivity

I wrote 40k words on a novella this year and finished a 72k word novel. I also wrote a 7k word short story. I published the novel and the short story, but the novella probably won’t see the light of day until late 2015.

I ran into a little bit of writer’s block near the end of the year, after I’d made a big proclamation to produce a shit-ton of words. Reading Dean Wesley Smith’s blog really helped get me out of that rut and made me question a lot of my assumptions. I think I’ve been focusing so much on the finished product that I lost sight of the most important part of writing: having fun. Writing the actual words became a means to an end, not an enjoyable activity.

I dug myself out of my rut by writing a short story near the end of the year. I didn’t worry about anything but the writing. It was a blast. I did maybe two or three revisions on it; much, much fewer than I normally do. It’s the most fun I’ve had writing in the past couple of years and it’s a lesson I’ll be taking into 2015. I’m already at work on Badlands #3 with 5k words in the bank. It’s really been a pleasant and fun experience just taking it a scene at a time.

The Market

My sales continue to decline as the market floods with new work from indies and traditional publishers release more of their backlist in the $4.99 and under range. Traditional publishers are also running more sales on their digital titles, further competing with indie-level pricing. Kindle Unlimited is sucking paid sales away from indies at an increasing rate, making selling books even more difficult. With borrow payouts settling around $1.30, many indies (including myself) are seeing their revenue decline.

So what does this mean for me? Well, business as usual. I’m a full-time programmer, so writing is my second job. If I sell fewer books, I can still pay my mortgage. I’ll survive. And I’m certainly not going to quit, as have some others. I’ve wanted to publish to an audience for a long damn time, so I’m not going to squander that opportunity.

I’m not planning to focus much on advertising in the near future. I just finished up year one in a five-year plan that includes completing my best-selling series and fleshing out my horror and sci-fi thriller offerings. Over the next four years I can realistically expect to finish at least five novels, so that’ll provide me with a reasonable backlist. Then I can shift more of my focus to advertising and growing the business. Until then I’ll be focusing primarily on the writing and taking the sales as they come.

Reading

I read a handful of books this year, but not as many as I’d like. In 2015 I plan to read a lot more. I bought a ton of them recently (I admit, I horde books), so I have a huge to-be-read pile waiting for me.

This Blog

I don’t see much changing with the frequency of updates to this blog or with the content provided. I write what I feel is relevant here, when I think it needs to be written.

New Work

My main focus for 2015 is going to be finishing up my Badlands series. Out of the Badlands (Book #3) is first on the list. I might be able to release my novella in the same series next year, but I don’t want to make any promises. If I can get to more work next year then I will, but it’s not on the project plan.

So there you have it, my thoughts on 2014 and my plans for next year. All in all it’s been a sobering but educational year for me. Sure, the market is tougher than ever now, but the opportunity to reach readers without the need to genuflect at the feet of the Almighty¬†Gatekeepers remains alive and well. This is still the best time ever to be a writer and I’m super excited about the opportunities the future holds.

Take it easy and I’ll see you next year!

Heading Into 2014

After finishing the second book in my Badlands series, I was finally able to take some time in December and revamp my sales reporting. My existing sales spreadsheet was clunky and difficult to maintain, and it didn’t allow for the depth of analysis I really needed.¬†I design and build data warehouses in my day job, so it seemed only natural that Elegy Publishing should also have a data warehouse for its sales reporting.

That work is now complete and I’ve been running the new reports for a couple of weeks now. Analyzing this data, I’ve discovered some interesting things. I thought I’d take some time to share those with you. If you’re a reader, you probably don’t care about this. But if you’re another indie writer/publisher, you might find these numbers interesting. You might even be able to apply some of these insights to your own business.

Sales Have Fallen

It seems that the ebook market has cooled. Kindles are no longer new, nor are ebooks. Publishers have dropped their prices now that agency pricing is dead and output of new ebooks has finally started to catch up to demand. Readers now have plenty of books for their e-readers and big-name authors have lower-priced backlists available. Indies aren’t dominating the low-cost market any more; we’re sharing the space and sharing the sales.

Personally I had a killer Christmas season in 2012. December, January and February were $2,000 months. Things started to drop a little in March and April. Even May was decent, earning around $1,000 in royalties.

Then June hit and sales dropped off a cliff. Units dropped 35% compared to June of 2012. Revenue dropped 26%. July was worse, with revenue and units dropping 65%. It steadily plummeted, down 77%, 79%, even down 85% compared to the prior year. $800 monthly norms dropped to a couple hundred dollars.

With the release of Badlands #2, I’ve seen sales climb again (albeit slowly). Not to the levels seen in the heyday (2011 & 2012), but an uptick, nonetheless.

So what does this mean? Well, the gold rush is over. The fair-weather writers who aren’t selling now have likely moved on to other things, leaving behind the die-hards who know that success comes after lots and lots of hard work. The market has reached an equilibrium and writers who continuously improve and release consistently will be the ones who succeed.

KDP Select Probably Isn’t Worth It

At one point KDP Select delivered. Now, not so much. I spent most of 2012 in Select, opting out in 2013. I earned around $700 from Select borrows last year vs. $600 from non-Amazon channels this year.

The verdict? Stay out of Select. The post-free bump in paid sales is gone. And what I’m earning outside of Amazon is pretty damn close to what I *might* earn from Select borrows. But staying out of Select means I can branch out to other markets, namely Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo. While this doesn’t earn me quite as much as Amazon borrows, being on all devices (and in all markets) is worth it.

Amazon Continues to Dominate

Amazon drives more than 97% of my revenue. It’s pretty easy to see why they’re still so important:

amazon_non_amazon

Note: My "REU" term means a Revenue Earning Unit (a sell or a borrow)

Of the 3% of my non-Amazon sales, here’s how it all breaks out (by sales channel):

non-amazon_breakout

Of the little guys, Barnes & Noble continues to dominate. Apple outsells Kobo by units, but is a close third in revenue (I earn more by going to Kobo direct). Smashwords earns me a little here and there and Sony is laughably small.

Armed with this data going into 2014, I can be confident in my decision to stay out of Amazon exclusivity and in all other markets. I also know that going direct with Kobo is worth the effort. It really doesn’t require much of my time to distribute outside of Amazon, so the return on my time investment is worthwhile.

Performance by Title

Into the Badlands (my debut novel) is clearly my biggest earner over all time. It was published during the heyday and has been out the longest. The Desolate, my second novel, has been available since summer, 2012. Beyond the Badlands, my third novel (and #2 in my Badlands series) has only been available for a month. Here’s the breakdown between titles:

performance_by_title

It’s interesting to note that in one month Beyond the Badlands has earned 25% of what The Desolate has earned in a year and a half.

This information, combined with fans’ requests for the remaining books in the Badlands series, has prompted me to change direction. Instead of focusing on my sci-fi thriller in 2014, I’ll be directing efforts toward the final two books in the Badlands series. Fans want them and I want to write them. Not only will I make readers happy, I’ll earn more money. I’ll get to the sci-fi thriller, just not as quickly as I’d originally planned.

The other thing you’ll notice here is that my novella (Muster Drill), my short story (Wishes and Desires) and my short story collection (Walking At Night) sell much more slowly than even my worst-selling novel. Those experiments have proven that the money is in novels. While I enjoy writing shorter works, it doesn’t reward monetarily. That said, I’m sure I’ll return to these shorter forms of storytelling, but they’ll likely be side projects, taking a back seat to novels. Besides, I’m convinced people find me through my novels and then pick up my shorter works (not the other way around) and I prefer writing novels anyway.

Paperbacks

Paperbacks have never been a big seller for me. But my new sales reporting has revealed something I hadn’t noticed before: I’m losing money on non-novel paperbacks. My novella and short story collection still haven’t earned back my proof copy costs.

So going forward, only novels will likely see paperback. And even then, demand for paper is almost non-existent. I make them because it’s fairly easy to do now that I’ve figured out the process and I like seeing them on my bookshelf. And some readers do still want them. I can make a paperback for less than $10 now (and maybe four hours of my time), so it’s still worth the effort.

Other Book Stats

Some other stats I found interesting about my books…Beyond the Badlands cost nearly $500 to produce and earned its production costs back after 24 days. Knowing that, if I release the next two Badlands novels ASAP I can feel confident they’ll earn out quickly, providing me with enough money to subsidize my sci-fi thriller (it’ll likely take longer to earn out).

Since September, 2011 I’ve sold 14,256 books. I had 344 Amazon Prime borrows. I’ve spent roughly 1,000 hours writing these books, earning an estimated gross of nearly $27 per hour. Not huge money, but decent. Since September ’11 I’ve averaged around 17 books sold per day.

Assuming each novel I wrote *might* have earned a $5,000 advance from a traditional publisher, only Into the Badlands has surpassed that amount. The Desolate has earned a little over two grand. (Beyond the Badlands hasn’t been out long enough to consider).

If I’d taken an advance for Into the Badlands, I would’ve left money on the table. Publishing that book myself earned me more money than if I’d taken a publisher’s deal.

But if I’d taken an advance for The Desolate, I would’ve earned more money (so far, at least). Of course there’s no guarantee The Desolate would¬† have been picked up by a traditional publisher and I would have lost creative control if it had. And I still have the rest of my life for that book to earn money at a higher royalty rate.

Truth is, some books are going to earn more than others. But even my slowest-selling novels have earned back their production costs (and more). I’m not getting rich, but revenue is in the black. In the end, if I had it to do over again, I’d still choose to publish them myself.

All in all, business is still looking good. Things have normalized, but the recipe for success hasn’t really changed: hard work, continuous improvement and steady production. I’m looking forward to a very busy, but hopefully successful 2014 (and beyond)

2013 End-of-Year Update

It’s 4:00 in the morning here and I’ve just gotten my son cleaned up after a stomach bug caused him to puke in his bed. He’s resting now, but I’m waiting to make sure he’s not going to go right back and barf all over himself again. Naturally I thought this would be a good time for an update on where things are right now.

As we roll into November, I’ve decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year. Mostly because I thought it better to instead spend that time revising the novel I started for last year’s NaNoWriMo. That book is called The Crossover Gene and is my first sci-fi thriller. Revisions are going well, albeit a little slow these days with all the time I spend helping my eight year old with his mountain of homework.

I’m pretty excited about this book. I think folks who like my other work would like this book too, so I’ve decided to publish it under my own name rather than a pseudonym. Despite its sci-fi bend, the book is a thriller at its core. Pretty much the same as my other work.

Speaking of other work, Beyond the Badlands¬†is still with my editor. I’m hoping to get it back next week, after which I’ll incorporate the changes and get the book to my proofreader. After that, I’ll fix any errors, read the book one more time and then publish. I’m shooting for a late-November release, if possible. As always, sign up for my mailing list to be the first to know when the book is available.

Plans are now to finish the first draft of The Crossover Gene early next year and then put it away for a while. While it’s simmering on the back burner, I’ll begin work on Badlands book three, tentatively titled Revenge in the Badlands. So far I’ve sketched out a partial outline for the book. I’m not entirely sure when either book will be available, but know that I’m actively working on them. I’ll will say this; I don’t plan on letting two years pass before I release book three in the Badlands series.

In reading news, a writer friend of mine named Keith C. Blackmore recently turned me on to a new writer by the name of Tim Curran. I picked up a copy of Skull Moon earlier this week and I’m loving it so far. If you dig monsters, gunslingers and Indian folklore then this book might just be for you.

I also finished the last book in the Lockman Chronicles series by Rob Cornell. An action-packed mashup of werewolves, vampires, ogres, ghosts and monsters of all kinds. I really dug these books. You can pick up book one of the series here.

That’s about all for now. Time to go move the kiddo to his own bed and get some sleep myself.

Good night.