As more of a writer than a marketer, it can be hard to talk about sales and marketing. I launched Attacked Beneath Antarctica with as much of an advertising blitz as I could afford, and then dropped the price on Against the Eldest Flame to $0.99 as a cheap way to get into the series.
So far it seems to be working. My free promotion on Against the Eldest Flame got almost 300 copies out into the wild, and that’s just the beginning. Freebies are fun, but what matters are sales and paid reads.
That’s where I’m actually seeing the benefits. Against the Eldest Flame is selling steadily; the numbers aren’t huge but they’ve been pretty constant. I’ve also been selling copies of both sequels, with Attacked Beneath Antarctica moving slightly faster than Air Pirates of Krakatoa.
It’s looking good, and now I’m getting ready to publish book 4: Giant Robots of Tunguska.
Keep an eye out for it!
One of the more difficult things about writing a series is keeping track of characters. Few things are worse than describing a character one way in book one, and a completely different way in book four. It’s the same with character backgrounds.
Some writers solve this problem by writing out a detailed character biography as soon as they’re introduced. I can’t work that way. I don’t know the character yet, so I don’t know what shaped them. That doesn’t mean I don’t keep records, it’s that most of those details come from what’s on the page, not something I planned beforehand.
Take Vic for example. When I started the series I had only one hard and fast rule about her romantic life: she was not Doc’s love interest. Everything else was open. At that point, my ideas were for a much more Doc-centric series than I’ve actually ended up writing, but I wanted to keep any potential romance out of the initial core team.
That’s how I was able to write the romance in Air Pirates of Krakatoa. I hadn’t closed anything off, so I was able to follow the characters where the story wanted to take them rather than say it wasn’t happening because of something I’d decided months or years earlier.
Building a character background is always good: but keep your options open.
One of the quirks about Amazon’s review system is that while US reviews propagate to other markets, although they don’t affect the star ranking, foreign reviews don’t show up anywhere on the US site.
For example, Against the Eldest Flame has this review on Amazon UK, and Air Pirates of Krakatoa also has a very good review on the same site. The only catch is that you can’t see those reviews unless you follow the link, or visit Amazon.co.uk.
It’s a curious fact about the system, and not one I would have noticed if I hadn’t looked at other sites.
You learn something new every day.
Even as I’m trying to promote Attacked Beneath Antarctica, I’m also working further along the series. As I mentioned previously, Book 4 is already written, so I’m working on Book 5.
At the moment I’m about a fifth of the way through the first draft of what I’m calling “The Sunkiller Affair.” I don’t want to say too much in case I change my mind, and I still have to get Giant Robots of Tunguska out the door first, but I can say that it’s already developing its own personality.
It starts with a kidnapping…but it doesn’t end there…
If you like my books, and if you’re reading this I hope you do, I have a favor to ask: Could you please review my Doc Vandal books on Amazon.com?
Against the Eldest Flame is free through tomorrow, so you can easily pick that one up.
The other two books aren’t free, but I have two copies of each book to give away in return for an honest review. Just hit me up through the Contact page with your Amazon account email and I’ll gift you a copy.
Please post your reviews on Amazon.com as those reviews propagate to the other sites, but it doesn’t go the other way.
Why wait? Ask for your free review copy today!
If you’ve been following Twitter much in the last few days you’ve probably seen this article by Stephen Hunter saying that a writer has to write very day or quit now. It’s a great idea in theory, but what about the real world.
Full disclosure: When I wrote my first novel I wrote every day. For the next seven, I didn’t. The idea of building the habit of writing is important, but saying you have to write every day or you’re an utter failure who shouldn’t bother continuing is unrealistic.
After two months of not skipping a single day working on my most recent novel, I skipped a day last week. We had to spend the night in the emergency room because my partner was having breathing troubles. Spending the night with her was more important than writing every day.
I finished the book, still at the hospital, two days later.
You have to make allowances for life.
If you ask me, the only two things you have to do are you have to write, and you have to finish things. It can be a novel, an article, or even a blog post. What it is doesn’t matter. What matters is that you write it, write regularly, and you get things finished.
Expecting people to meet unrealistic goals is ridiculous.
As of one o’clock this morning I finished the draft of Giant Robots of Tunguska, bringing it home at 53,839 words. I created the Scrivener document on the evening of February 20th, and finished it in the early morning of May 25th– so it took me three months and five days to write making it my fastest ever novel.
Now it’s planning the next one, editing book three, and looking at the other novels I have in the drafting stages.