I had only one short story published last year in ESciFi magazine and I released no new novels. Operation Stay Under the Radar of Readers was a huge success. Sales of my back list have trickled down to nothing. I’ve done absolutely no formal marketing.
My online presence was pared down to just three social media sites. Sometimes I say something on Twitter, but I’m not on it as much as everyone else seems to be. I’ve increased my output on Google Plus, mostly related to my model building because I can show pictures of that. Sometimes I post about my writing progress. Same goes for my blog, which continues to be where I post about both my writing, what I’m reading and my modeling progress.
My Twitter audience is about the same as its been for years. somewhere in the mid 500’s. Most of whom don’t follow me. I’m following only a hundred more or so. As for Google Plus, things are slightly better in terms of followers. There I have 640 followers and pick a few each week. I have 569 in my circles and rarely add new folks. The blog stats have been pretty steady at around a hundred page views per day on average. Last year that average was more like 60, so that’s an improvement.
I have not run the sales numbers for ebooks this year but off the cuff, I can say that it would be less than 50 total across all vendors, Amazon, Kobo and Nook. So that’s what I mean by staying off the reader radar screens. I have made an effort to grow my Newsletter audience in the last month or so by doing a book giveaway. My list has about 15 people on it now. So when I gave away nine books, that was pretty much everyone I didn’t know personally on my list at the time. Next year I will be doing more give always and updating the newsletter twice a month leading up to the release of my next two books in the Spring.
This year I’ve written first drafts of two books. That is a first for me. Next year I will continue that output by writing another full novel and a novella. At the end of the year next year I should have the Starforgers Trilogy complete. It will not just be three novels, but will also include a dozen short stories and two novellas set in the same time period of my universe. This will complete the sales funnel for the Starforgers Era of the Star Saga. In 2015 the last two books will come out and I can offer three of them in a bundle as a complete trilogy. My funnel will start with a handful of free short stories and continue down with a $2.99 anthology, 3 novels and two novellas all featuring the same set of characters. At the bottom of the funnel will be the Starforgers Trilogy boxed set and a three book boxed set called Star Saga Beginnings which will include the first book in each of my eventual three trilogies.
My decision to not market myself and my books has paid off with an increased output of two books this year instead of only one book. Time spent hawking an incomplete back list was deemed unnecessary. I don’t yet know if that was a good decision or not. Sales are down and my productivity is up. Over time, that will eventually yank the Long Tail and get me more sales. But I predict not until the funnel is complete in late 2015.
In the meantime, I’m busy editing, working on outlines and getting covers lined up for two releases next year. I probably won’t have time to start writing until late Spring or Summer. I don’t plan any release parties for my two books out next year. Largely because the reader still can’t get to the end of the trilogy yet. Although with three novels and lots of short stories, she could spend a few weeks reading in that universe.
In 2015 about mid year, all the books will be out and the sales funnel will be complete for the first trilogy. At that point I will probably increase my marketing efforts and throttle back on writing. I have another Joshua Jones Mystery to write and will probably do that in the summer. Depending on the success of the Star Saga that year, I may experiment with a different genre or a stand alone, separate universe SF novel. Taking a year or two off the Star Saga will recharge my batteries. Provided there is an interest, I could return to writing the Starstrikers Trilogy. I predict that by then I will have a modest audience and they will be clamoring for more Star Saga books. If I don’t have an audience by then, I will probably continue writing them anyway, because I want to read them.
To the extent that I’m known in these parts as a self published writer, I sometimes get asked if I would ever consider going the traditional route. My answer has stayed the same for the past six years. Sure, so long as they let me write in my universe and maintain my rights to it all. I have no need to be a famous writer and so don’t pine away for Hugo awards and “real” book deals. I just want to write the stories in my own head the way I want to read them. If a publisher thinks they can sell those books, cool, let’s talk. Otherwise I’ll continue to self publish, and my books will all get written provided I’m still alive to write them.
Writing for me is still largely a hobby. I don’t need to make a living as a writer because I already make a much better, more reliable income in the tech field. Now if lightning strikes and I suddenly find myself as popular as Hugh Howey, then and only then would I consider changing careers. But that’s not something I’m banking on happening. The only thing I can control is my output. I have enough story ideas in my head right now, to keep me writing for as long as I’m of sound mind and body. I predict a greater output though, when I retire. ;-)