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.
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 tossing...er...forget 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 year...it'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.
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):
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