Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

The 2013 Year In Review

Unlike previous year in review posts, I'm going to skip the usual blog stats breakdown. I used to get a kick out of seeing how many people stumbled onto my posts, read them, and possibly even left a comment. But I think the tone of this blog has changed to the point where while I still get a kick out of those things, they're not so much at the forefront of my focus. I'm ecstatic that this blog has posts which have been read well over 100,000 times now (the top 3 actually account for over 100,000 just by themselves), but my focus is more and more on my writing, so that's what this review is really about.

2013 was a great year for me. I released the first two Assassin Without a Name stories, with a third in the works presently.

Also, I finished up and released the second book in The Alchemancer series, The Nullification Engine. Initial reviews are positive, though few, but I have many more coming as review copies continue to go out. I'm really looking at the long term with my releases rather than trying to make a hard impact right from the get-go. The series continues to pick up new readers every day, so I'm happy about that.

On a related note, I'm really proud of The Nullification Engine. It's my most complex story to date, with five (or is it six?) viewpoint characters all going about their own business but also all tied together by the underlying storyline. My original plan for this series was five books, and I don't think that's changed. I'm outlining the next/third book now, so might start writing it in February. Having just gone through the whole beta/edit/proofread process, which spanned a couple of months just by itself, I'm hoping I can make some adjustments to help streamline it without losing any of the quality it brings.

My last major accomplishment was releasing the second edition of The Hall of the Wood. This was a book which, in simple terms, got released before it'd been given the proper editing treatment. The second edition resolved that. It's not selling as well as the Alchemancer books, but I sleep better at night knowing it's been raised to an acceptable level of quality, of which my readers absolutely deserve (and of which I expect of myself if I'm to continue publishing novels).

So that's that. Another year has come and gone. I've learned a tremendous amount about the writing business and what it takes to have staying power in the industry. I've also established some great relationships with readers, some of whom received advanced, finished copies of The Nullification Engine just because. I hope to make many more such relationships in 2014.

The 2012 Year In Review

Carrying on in the tradition of my annual Year In Review posts where I took a look back at each of 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, here's my review of 2012 from a blogging and writing perspective.

Blogging

Late last year I decided to start blogging every day. This obviously had an impact on the amount of content produced and the number of posts I ended up with. I was kind of surprised, though, that it didn't result in a new high. As this table shows, 2010 remains my most prolific year as a blogger.

Year Total Posts For Year
2008 157  
2009 219 62
2010 363 144
2011 407 44
2012 514 107

Still, 107 posts is significantly better than the previous year and I managed to just come in over 500 total. 500! Wow, it feels good to be able to write that.

In terms of traffic, I'm going to hold off on the effect that making daily posts has had. As one would expect, traffic is up. But is it up significantly year-to-year from when I wasn't blogging every day? That's a determination for a future post.

In 2012, I once again reminded people to make backing up your data a priority. I jumped into KDP Select, enrolling both of my novels, but ultimately bailed on the program. Just not for me. I ran giveaways for print editions of The Five Elements and The Hall of the Wood. I finally threw in the towel on free promotions. I talked a little bit about eBook pricing. I revealed a new cover and product page for The Five Elements, was interviewed on Kindle Fantasy Authors, and talked a bit about achieving perfection, or trying to anyway. I joined the Magic Appreciation Tour, discussed the direction I plan to take The Alchemancer series, gave my opinion of reviews and why I've generally stopped reading them, listed out some reasons why I don't follow everyone back on Twitter, and announced I was no longer making print editions of my novels available. I furthered my online presence by establishing a Facebook fan page and started blogging every day. I featured my first ever guest post, featuring a post by Tracy Falbe. Last, I offered up some predictions for the ePublishing industry as we move into 2013. That post got about 1,000 views in the first three days as it got picked up by a few on Twitter.

Here's what dedicated readers and those just passing by found most useful in terms of posts written in 2012:

  1. KDP Select Promotion 1 Wrap-up
  2. The Failure of Free
  3. The Characters of The Five Elements
  4. The Places of The Five Elements
  5. What to do with an Amazon review containing spoilers
  6. The Five Elements: Free on Kindle Today Only
  7. The Great Free Experiment
  8. The Five Elements Giveaway
  9. 5 out of 5 stars for The Five Elements by reader Timmain
  10. The Five Elements: Now Free Tomorrow, too

Here's the overall Top 10 (out of the 500+ posts) with number of views in parenthesis:

  1. Publishing’s Big 6: Who are they? (26249)
  2. eBook File Formats (26133)
  3. Book Review: The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb (17366)
  4. Novels (9412)
  5. Has the fantasy genre become stagnant? (9223)
  6. Weekend Links - 7/3/08 (8806)
  7. Recommended Reference - The Synonym Finder (8675)
  8. Fiction: How Long Is Too Long? (7908)
  9. Locus Online: 2007 Cover Art Gallery (7697)
  10. How much do you make selling through Amazon's Kindle store? (7478)

That's 128,947 combined views! If you look at the total number of views of all posts, it's 953,371. Almost 1 million views since my first post back in January, 2008.

Now, on to writing.

Writing

I didn't complete the next novel in the Alchemancer series. That was a bit of a disappointment for me. But I made some moves related to the day job about mid-year which has put me in a good position to finish the next book by early 2013. On the plus side, I've got a solid outline I'm working from and I'm making consistent, daily progress.

Also, I've added a lot of worldbuilding type of info to the World of Uhl site. Information about the various kingdoms, their people, and specific characters that show up in my novels. Go check it out.

Last, I've got maps coming. The first one to go along with the story told in The Hall of the Wood is finished. I'll do a reveal in the next couple of weeks and also get it integrated into the eBook. The next map to come my way will be the one to go along with The Five Elements. Then I have two coming for The Nullification Engine, which is the next book in the Alchemancer series. The final and fifth map I've commissioned my cartographer to create is of Uhl itself. A full-on world map. It should be glorious.

Conclusion

I'll conclude with some stats and a thanks to everyone who has made this blog a success for me by stopping by, reading, commenting, and spreading the good word through Twitter and other social media outlets.

Thanks!

  • Total number of posts at EOY: 514 (at end of 2011: 407)
  • Total number of posts written in 2012: 107 (at end of 2011: 407)
  • Total number of views for all posts: 953,371 (at end of 2011: 716,639; an increase of 236,732)
  • Average posts/month: 8.9 (at end of 2011: 4) 

The 2011 Year In Review

It's fast becoming a tradition around here to reflect a bit on the previous year both as a writer and a blogger. Previous bouts of reflection spilled out of me in 2010 and 2009. But, here we are now, in 2012, so let's dig in.

In terms of blogging, my posting decreased dramatically. In 2010, I wrote 144 posts. In 2011, only 44. This reflects an attempt to refocus myself on my novel writing and my self-promotion as an indie author. I'm not giving up blogging; I find there are important topics that, as an author, I need to know. Topics such as the growing alignment of paperback and eBook prices is one of those things that can change (and is changing) an industry. Also, Amazon's eBook strategy remains paramount for nearly every indie author out there. I can't guarantee that every post I wrote in 2011 is going to be beneficial to everyone, but they are at least beneficial to me.

In terms of what others found most useful, here are the "hottest" posts written in 2011 (numbers in parenthesis represent the total number of views for the year):

  1. Pricing: eBooks vs Paperbacks (2241)
  2. Contribute (1807)
  3. The Five Elements - 12. The Four Elements (1780)
  4. Free Kindles for Everyone! (1439)
  5. An introspective on Borders' liquidation (1187)
  6. The Five Elements - 21. The Fifth Element (888)
  7. The Five Elements - 18. Amongst the Clouds (842)
  8. How to ruin your writing career in 1 easy step (773)
  9. Book Review: Honour of the Grave by Robin Laws (747)
  10. Classic Reread: Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles (714)

Now, let's look at the most popular posts overall:

  1. Tor Free E-books: The Complete List (17746)
  2. eBook File Formats (14890)
  3. Book Review: The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb (13571)
  4. Publishing’s Big 6: Who are they? (12717)
  5. Tor Free E-book: Old Man's War by John Scalzi (11120)
  6. Tor Free E-book: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (8955)
  7. Tor Free E-Book: Starfish by Peter Watts (8045)
  8. Has the fantasy genre become stagnant? (7791)
  9. Weekend Links - 7/3/08 (7544)
  10. Recommended Reference - The Synonym Finder (7178)

The #1 spot still belongs my list of Tor's free giveaways from a few years ago. I think the word "free" in the title has something to do with that post's longevity. My review of Hobb's Soldier Son Trilogy fell one place to #3, making room for a new #2. My post on eBook file formats spent most of 2010 skyrocketing through the ranks and really only missed the Top 10 for that year by a few places. Seeing it at #2 (and eventually #1 is my guess) is no surprise.

Other notable additions to the Top 10 Posts for 2011 is my post on the publishing industry's "Big 6". A lot of writers come by to take a look at that one, and it's even gotten linked to from several other sources as reference material. That's gratifying.

As far as writing… where to start? Lots of self-promotion via Twitter, GoodReads, and this web site. I gave away a lot of free eBooks, serialized The Five Elements, and purchased some professional art to use as the cover of The Hall of the Wood. I even re-vamped the cover for The Five Elements. Also, The Hall of the Wood went free on Amazon and I'm happy to say it's racking up over 100 downloads per day, went as far as #11 in the Kindle Free Mythology category (it's at #26 as I write this), and remains in the Top 100 Free Fantasy category for Kindle. It's even driven some sales of The Five Elements (but not enough).

Clearly, there's a lot going on right now for me on the writing front. I think I'd like to address some of these points separately in their own posts.

That being said, I'll close this up with my usual statistics:

  • Total number of posts at EOY: 407 (at end of 2010: 363)
  • Total number of posts written in 2011: 44 (at end of 2010: 144)
  • Total number of views for all posts: 716639 (at end of 2010: 450,053)
  • Average posts/month: 4 (at end of 2010: 11.9) 

The 2010 Year In Review

Another year has passed and so I'd like to take a look what's been happening around here.

I blogged a lot more this past year than in year's past. I also undertook LibraryThing's 50 Book Reading Challenge (results of that effort will appear in another post). Also, I made the decision to self-publish my fantasy novel, The Five Elements. That decision included serializing the novel, chapter-by-chapter, on this blog; giving it away for free in PDF format; and selling it in eBook format through Amazon and Smashwords. Making sales and collecting reviews on retailers' sites remains a challenge. I do have some things planned for the upcoming year in this regard, but I'll save that for another post.

Moving on to some numbers, here are the most popular posts written in 2010 (along with the number of views for each and the post's placing with respect to all of the 360 or so posts currently on this blog):

  1. Publishing’s Big 6: Who are they? (3907, 15)
  2. Heinlein's Rules for Writing (1828, 54)
  3. Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 7: Lulu (1768, 57)
  4. Book Review: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance (1739, 59)
  5. Buy Me A Book (1718, 61)
  6. How long should it take to write a novel? (1559, 75)
  7. LibraryThing's 2010 Book Reading Challenge (1548, 78)
  8. Kindle: First Impressions (1401, 94)
  9. Book Review: The Alchemist's Code by Dave Duncan (1208, 123)
  10. Book Review: Lord of the Fire Lands by Dave Duncan (1066, 156)

I'm not surprised to see which post came out on top. My post on publishing's Big 6 was one whose view count I saw rise steadily. Also, the fact that three of the ten positions are held by book reviews is not surprising, either; I wrote quite a few book reviews in 2010.

Now, let's look at the most popular posts overall along with their view count:

  1. Tor Free E-books: The Complete List (12876)
  2. Book Review: The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb (9718)
  3. Tor Free E-book: Old Man's War by John Scalzi (7872)
  4. eBook File Formats (6656)
  5. Has the fantasy genre become stagnant? (6635)
  6. Weekend Links - 7/3/08 (6519)
  7. Tor Free E-Book: Starfish by Peter Watts (6396)
  8.  How Much Time Should Professional Writers Spend Blogging? (5813)
  9. Locus Online: 2007 Cover Art Gallery (5746)
  10. Recommended Reference - The Synonym Finder (5678)

Compared to last year's results, the top 2 positions remained the same. My post on eBook file formats, which was not in the top 10 at all last year (but which was #2 in views for the year itself), is now at #4. That post was also the only newcomer.

I'll close with some statistics (that are probably only of interest to myself):