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!
When I started working on the Doc Vandal series back in November of 2009, the last thing I thought was that I would have to consider current politics. I picked the late 1930’s for a reason, and part of that reason was because good and evil were clearly delineated.
Nazis were bad; punching Nazis was good.
Now it’s almost eight years later and I’m working on a story about the German-American Bund and Nazis are in the news on an almost daily basis. If I was to listen to some people, I’d be expected to give the Nazis the benefit of the doubt under the guise of freedom of speech.
I’m not going to do that.
Public display of Nazi symbols isn’t free speech; it’s a threat.
In Doc Vandal’s world everyone understands that.
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…
Now that book three is out, it’s time to talk about where I go from here with the Doc Vandal series.
The next step is book 4, which is completely written and just needs some editing to be released. Meanwhile, I’m working on book 5 and have a few ideas percolating for book 6. Currently, book 5 looks to be set almost entirely in the United States and will close out 1937 for our characters.
My biggest problem with the series, speaking as a writer, is that I have too many ideas. Every episode of Ancient Aliens gives me a seed for another two or three adventures.
Enjoy the books that are already out, and if enough of you like them I’ll keep going.
Don’t forget to review your favorites!
Just a quick reminder that today is the last day you can get Against the Eldest Flame free on Amazon! Starting tomorrow I’m going to be charging for it again.
Grab it free while you still can.