Business of Writing

The Quiet Between

I’m in that odd space between projects. My latest effort is off to my editor, so there’s nothing left for me to do right now other than wait. Also, while I have started planning two new stories, I’m not ready to start writing either of them. In fact, I’m not even sure which one to jump into first, so I’m going back and forth with outlining each of them while I try to figure out that next step.

The space between is kind of strange (I already called it ‘odd,’ didn’t I?). It’s a lull between furious bouts of activity, which is really what writing a novel becomes when you’re working a day job while trying to push the needle of progress forward enough each day to make you feel as if you’re making progress and so you can feel like, yes, you might just finish this thing someday.

Of course, at this point in my career, I’ve finished three novels, two short stories (plus some others from a bygone era long ago when I first started writing around age 20), and three novellas, so there shouldn’t be any doubt that I can’t or won’t finish something I start. For me, it’s more a question of am I going to at least make back my investment in this thing? Some people think because I’ve been doing this going on four years now that I must be rolling in the dough, right? Ha. Not exactly. I’m positive on one of my novels, and that’s about it. I spent far too much on advertising early on that didn’t give me a good ROI, so it’s partially my fault (or maybe it’s all my fault, since I am the business owner here). But I have yet to see a good sell rate on anything, and since this writing stuff costs money to produce, you have to sell to make back that initial investment. Selling is a problem I have yet to solve.

Which brings me back to the question of which project to tackle next.

On one hand, I have my Assassin Without a Name series. With Thief’s Gambit now available via pre-order (only 99 cents during the pre-order period!), I’d like to keep the momentum going by having another story ready to go shortly after March 10, which is the official release date for the novella. So, there’s that.

On the other hand, I have my Alchemancer series. I’m not ready to devote the time to a third novel just yet, mostly because I have some other ideas I want to explore within the context of the series, namely a handful of short stories which will constitute side-stories about certain characters. The first one I have in mind is a story about the witch, Ursool. She wasn’t always disfigured, so there’s a story to tell there. The story I have in mind is a bit of a romance with doses of reflection and sadness. It takes place many years before The Five Elements, when Aaron was still a young child following his dad around in Taloo, watching him repair mills and other broken things. Ensel Rhe wasn’t exiled yet. Serena…she was in Brighton, trying to figure out how to tell her mother that she was intent on pursuing a life of sorcery, not marriage and tea parties. Actually, both Aaron and Serena (and Shanna, too) might not even have been born yet when this story takes place. In any case, Ursool is really the great tragedy of the Alchemancer series. I want to tell her story.

But, I also want to tell the next story in my assassin series. Thief’s Gambit has a lot going for it, not least of which is Elizabeth West (who claims honors on the title this time; it’s her gambit, in other words), who I’m seriously considering spinning off into her own series.

Image copyright Milica Jevtic

If you’ve read anything at all by me, you know my female characters are often more capable than the male ones, which means Liz, as my favorite witty assassin calls her, is about as fulfilling a character as any author could hope for. She’s smart, sexy, knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. She’d make a great lead character for her own series.

But, I was talking about the next assassin story, wasn’t I, not the first of a new series about an enterprising thief. Back to that…

The series is getting to the point where I need to start answering some questions. The next story does that, namely addressing the presence of a certain black crow which keeps harrying our hero at the most inopportune times (this will make more sense if you’ve read The Goddard Affair and certainly once you’ve read Thief’s Gambit). Plus, it introduces another major character into the fold. Another woman, but this one a…hmm, no spoilers. The story is in planning now, so best I keep a lid on the particulars.

So what else happens in the space between?

I work on other things, that’s what.

Like, re-enabling comments on this blog. Go ahead, scroll down and leave one. I dare you. (Also, I hope it works)

Also, I listen to lots and lots of podcasts. Actually, I do that normally anyway. What do I listen to? How about the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Marketing Podcast? Also, the Self-Publishing Podcast, Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast (starting to see a theme here?), NPR’s Planet Money, the Sell More Books Show, .NET Rocks (software engineer by day, remember?), Windows Weekly, and some others.

I also try to figure out how to sell more books (haven’t made any progress here yet), how to engage readers more, how to get more reviews (not much working here, either), and other stuff.

Speaking of reviews… I’ve had this thing going on where if you sign-up to my mailing list I’ll send you the next Assassin Without a Name story. I’m stopping that deal for new subscribers (existing subscribers will continue to receive each story when it’s released). Mostly because, hey, giving stuff away doesn’t get me my investment back, nor does it allow me to someday quit my day job and write full-time. I was hoping people would reciprocate with a review. But, that has most definitely not happened. So, I’ll keep up the commitment for existing subscribers, but no such deal for new ones.

Actually, I’m considering offering a “starter pack” of books to new subscribers. More on that in the near future if I decide to go ahead with it.

Back to the what to work on next… Leave a comment if you have any thoughts for me. I’ve actually got another idea for a new series of novels. It’s a cross-genre thing which I think could work out really well. Or I could continue with one of the ideas above. I’m open.

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