Monday, 14 December 2015

End of Year Round-Up, 2/2

In this, the final part of my 2015 round-up, The Business, Traditional Publishing, and Success and Failures and possibly a couple of plans for 2016 that I've no real intention of worrying about.

The Business

I think nowdays 'The Business' is just another aspect of 'The Craft', but I'm splitting them anyway. This was always my least favourite part of writing, and because of that, it's also the part I'm least likely to study. I enjoy research for novels, I enjoy writing. I don't enjoy chasing money, or sales, or publishers, or editors. I get zero satisfaction from running a successful promotion. I've always wanted someone else to do that bit...but it's not going to happen, not like that. There's no bolt of lightning that's going to make me suddenly wealthy. But I do need to sell more, simply because I need to eat and smoke and drink coffee so that I can write more. So, though I've always approached writing like work, I began, this year, to approach selling like work and not some onerous duty akin to unblocking the toilet.

This whole 'hybrid' author revelation's been kind of helpful, too (I always was a hybrid, just didn't really know it) so promoting my side of my catalogue is a bigger issue. I'm doing that. I'm paying artists where I need to (Chris Taggart's working steadily on the fantasy novels, and Faith Kauwe is working through the edits - and yes, editors are artists) and making my own covers where I can...but not being lazy about it. They're around 500% better than my first efforts, five years ago. Those covers were a bit of wallpaper with some writing on them. They're better now. I'm going to put out some paperbacks in the New Year, too. They won't sell many, but it's CreateSpace and it's free to do. I figure if I sell ten paperbacks in a year, it's worth it even if only to have a proof copy on the Shelf of Boasting.

I used BookBub for the first time, as soon as I decided I'm a hybrid author. It made a difference to books shifted...long term, if it will make a difference to sales...too early to tell. It's been less than a month.

Money's not really increased, but it's reverted to levels it was before the advent of Kindle Unlimited. Amazon tried something new, and maybe it'll work out (maybe it is working out) but for a year, until it settled down, I lost money I couldn't afford to lose. I'm glad it's back where it was, but that's a big chunk out of my apple crumble (what?). Before Kindle Unlimited, sales were growing steadily, and reliably. Honestly, for a year there, I was dead in the water. It's no better than it was before, but at least it's not worse. Meh. It hit everyone in different ways and chasing around after Amazon's about as effective as playing kiss chase with a really quick girl at Primary school with too-small shoes on the wrong feet, like when I were a lad.

Traditional Publishing

I'm with DarkFuse, and will continue to be unless they grow tired of my work and can me. I think everyone's been affected by Kindle Unlimited, not just independent writers, but publishers, too. Things change though, and they're a great outfit - they're adaptable like perhaps those big-biggies don't seem to be. I've two out with them next year, and they continue to grow, as does my work with them. I'll be submitting again in 2016 and we'll see how that goes (as with everything else, nothing's guaranteed).

Successes and Failures (Past and Future...)

Just my thoughts on the year. Here goes...

Did I manage what I'd hoped for in 2015? Same as every year, I think - some successes, some failures, some missed goals, some goals I scored in games I didn't even realise I was playing and a few own goals laughed at by a tough crowd.

I didn't expect to spend nearly two months fixing a 12-year old novel...but I learned from it, and at last I'm comfortable enough to have it under my name (Rythe Awakes). Different goal, different game, but still a win. Then, fail - I thought The Tides of Rythe was sound and found it wasn't. Took three weeks to make that readable. So, I was a tosser, but the best tossers learn from that.

I'm still getting to grips with co-written novels. The two I'm working on are taking longer, but we're still going. Not a fail, I think...but like much of the year figuring out how to do something new.

I wanted to get an agent...didn't happen. Is it the end of the world? You know, after getting close, being told I'm good enough by three nice agents but that horror's a tough sell...I don't mind. I'm going to submit work to Gollancz and Angry Robot and keep a novel back for submissions here and there. It'll work out or it won't. Why would I submit to a larger publisher, when I can do it all on my own? Because as I've said before, I can't do it all on my own. Publishers have skills I don't have. I wouldn't rewire my house because I don't have those skills. They're better (and perhaps more interested) in the things they do well, and yes, it is still nice having a new book on the shelf.

Work I wanted done, I did. I didn't finish or even start some sequels, but I managed plenty besides even though I wrote (a lot) less than would've been ideal.

Flesh and Coin, Masters of Blood and Bone, Left to Darkness were all released by DarkFuse. I released Death by a Mother's Hand and reissued six novels (or more...lost count) that reverted to me. The Dead Boy, and Highwayman and UNIT 731 are already scheduled for 2016 releases. That's good, because it means I'm a year ahead and can concentrate on submissions and working on outstanding projects. Of all the work I intended to finish, I only missed one (The Temple of Art) but though I would have liked to finish more novels this's not like I've been doing nothing, so I'm fine with it.*

*Sort of. Not writing makes me quite grumpy.

Still, that aside, 2015 was a win, if only on points after a judges' decision.

The Future

Yeah! I remembered. In 2016, then, here's what I'm hoping to write:

Masters of Blood and Bone (sequel)
Left to Darkness (sequel)

Here's work I want to finish (work's already underway on these):

Beneath Rythe
Rain Clowns
Temple of Art
Red Ice Run

But, like I said, being a writer isn't just about writing anymore. I want to get a few paperbacks on my own, learn more about making those, and promotion, and try not to be a muppet. But be nice, as well. Being nice is always a worthy goal, I think, whatever your career.

As for anything else...I guess we'll see what crops up. And the following two pictures, for me, rather than you, I guess - just in case 2016 turns out to be a fail and I can look back at this round up, pull my socks up and carry on getting on with it.

Shelf of Boasting, 2012

Shelf of Boasting, 2015. And I ain't dead yet.

As always, love you, and thank you for reading. x

Friday, 4 December 2015

End of Year Round-Up Part 1/2

I didn't write as much as I usually do. Life kind of got in the way. But that's OK - I think that's what life's supposed to do - remind us it's not just words on paper.

Going to split this post into Reissues, Published Work, Out and About, and The Craft.


Rights to a load of novels and novellas revert to me this year. I'm a hybrid author, which I didn't really get until this year. The publishers, Grand Mal Press, Crowded Quarantine Publications, Evil Jester Press - all of them took a chance on my work and they're brilliant and lovely, still. But that's a ton of back catalogue I can promote on my I'm doing that. I reissued every novella and novel on my own: RAIN, The Estate (renamed to 'Damned to Cold Fire'), The Love of the Dead, A Stranger's Grave, A Home by the Sea, and The Walls of Madness, Spiggot. I also release five doubles packages, as a new line from me, called 'RED LINE HORROR'.

I probably forgot something else. Nevermind.

Published work:

Flesh and Coin, Masters of Blood and Bone, and Left to Darkness all came out with DarkFuse. Spiggot, Too and Death by a Mother's Hand I issued all on my own.

I wrote a short story which is in an anthology put together by Matt Shaw. The anthology's still #1 seller in horror anthologies - that's very nice. Doesn't make me a #1 bestseller. No.

I wrote and submitted some other short stories, too. Some have been accepted, some I decided to publish on my own. The Dead Boy will be out in January, and that's all mine. UNIT 731 will be out from DarkFuse in January, Highwayman will be released (DarkFuse) in December 2016. All cool.

I got rejected a few times this year, which perhaps sucked...but did it? You know those memories from days gone by Facebook offers up from time to time? My wife posted one that reminded me it's not all sunshine and rainbows being a writer, and rejection is part and parcel of it. Here's the photo, and it's a damn good reminded to not be such a whiny plonker about someone turning down a story:

Thinking 'oh woe is me' doesn't cut it. Wrote my first novel around 2004, spent bloody ages submitting that and others and frankly, doing it all wrong. But trying really hard to learn because it was what I wanted to do. I was doing it - just wasn't very good at the writing bit or the submitting bit. I got nowhere, until I got somewhere. This is my first published novel, RAIN. Since this first print, it's on a third edition. And this photo is from 2011. I've got something like thirty novels and novella out now. No, I'm not being a knob. I'm happy about it, yes, but I've a point, and it's this: Don't give up. Also, don't be a whiny baby about rejection. Boo-hoo, nobody loves me. But worms taste shit, so might as well work harder, eh? :P

Still got a few other submissions out and about, but only a couple of short stories and one novel. I'm holding the novel back because I'm ahead on books owed. I'll let you know how they go. Which leads nicely to...

Out and About:

What? How does that lead nicely to FCon? It doesn't. Possibly the worst segue in the history of this blog. Who cares? I don't. Do you? No. Well, here's a short bit and a picture.

FCon was the only convention I attended this year - there's a round up of that already, if you want to glance back over some of the older posts. But here's my favourite picture of the weekend, because friends.

The Craft

Never really wrote about this before. Never really considered it. I always thought writing was kind of like any innate skill - think about it too hard and you'll fuck it up. I know I've got better - that's not a boast - I really have and it was revisiting the first novel I ever wrote that drove it home. I wrote it (Rythe Awakes) around 2003-2004. I've long known it needed sorting out. I didn't know until this year just how much work it needed. Then, it took a year to write. I wrote it lunchtimes and evenings, fitting it around a full-time job and a ton of weed. This year, I lost around two months solid work on it, rewrote it from top to bottom. The story was sound, but 12 years ago I just didn't have the tools, or the skills, for the job. I know more now...but enough?

No. I don't think it's ever going to be enough. I'm learning again, though, and that's a good thing. Feel like I've learned more this year since my first novel acceptance in 2010.

In 2/2 I'll write a bit about successes, failures, the business, publishing and plans for the future and as every year hope not only that these round-ups help people starting out, but me, too. Sometimes it's good to look back.

Love you, as always x