Long Overdue Writing Update

WRITING STATUS

Fans of the Corvette novella will be pleased to know that the first draft is complete and in the hands of a few select beta readers. A second draft or pass at the manuscript will occur after I get some comments from the betas. Then it’s off to the editor and copy editor and finally, it will get released. When will that last part happen, you ask? Probably in late October.

In the meantime, I’ve already started writing book 3 and the final Corvette novella. If I finish it before winter you can look for that one to be released late winter or early next year. By that time I will be well engaged in writing Book 5 of the Star Saga – XiniX.

The only book on the schedule for next year is XiniX but that could change. If the Corvette trilogy continues to sell well and the demand is there, I could do the first book of a second trilogy in that series probably called Destroyer. As you can guess, Captain Vance progresses to a bigger ship in that trilogy.

SALES UPDATE

Corvette sales have slumped in the last month but sales of the other Star Saga books are steady as new fans make their way through the back list. I average about two thousand US dollars per month which is not too shabby for no advertising and no big publisher backing. Last month I did a reading at one of my local libraries and enjoyed hearing what other local writers were doing and meeting them to talk shop.

MODELING STATUS

On the modeling side of the house or more appropriately the garage, I’m trying to finish detailing the Black Star pirate ship for the Corvette 2 and 3 covers. Another week or so of fiddling with greeblies and then I can get her primer coat applied. From there it’s a base coat of flat black and then a bit of weathering and battle damage to finish her off.

I have drawn up plans for a second corvette model, this one a bit newer in design that will be featured on the third Corvette book cover. I probably won’t light it and will knock it out as soon as the pirate ship is finished and photographed.

LIFE IN GENERAL

Summer is another scorcher here in Idaho and now the area forest fires are making the air hard to breathe. It’s my least favorite time of year in the western US. The temperatures are hovering in the high nineties and hundreds Fahrenheit.  Which means I have to do my model building in the mornings and writing in the afternoons when I’m confined to the air conditioning.

We did a short family vacation last week in McCall Idaho and had a blast. Hiking, boating and canoeing were some of the fun things we did in the local resort community.

Hope you summer is going well and I’ll check in again when I have some updates.

 

Library Reading This Saturday

I’ll be one of the local writers featured this Saturday, the 22nd of July for the Writer’s Spotlight at the Meridian Library in Idaho. I’ll do a reading from K’nat Trap and take questions from the audience. Later on I’ll be at a table displaying my books and some of the models on their covers. Please come out and say hi to my fellow local authors and myself.

Rick Just

Devri Walls

Hilarey Johnson

Natalie Perry

Michaelbrent Collings

Peter Leavell

Shannon Foy

Ken McConnell

Loni Townsend

Diane Raptosh

 

Selling Ebooks

You may have noticed that some changes happened in June to my back list. The first change I made was that I raised prices on all of my ebooks across the board except for Corvette. Corvette is the introduction to my Star Saga and it is also the first book of at least three featuring the same crew. So it will always be .99 cents. I raised the other novellas to $2.99 and regular novels to $4.99. I did this because after having some success with Corvette, I wanted to increase the value of the rest of the Star Saga novels.

For that first week in June, sales stayed pretty much the same. Which in this case, is a good thing. The second change I did was take all my ebooks out of other markets and put them exclusively on Amazon in the Kindle Select Program. This earns me pages read and that, it turns out is where you make your money on Amazon. At least for now.

Did anyone protest not being able to get my books on Kobo or Nook? Nope. I have no audience there to protest. My sales on both of those platforms were dismal. Now that I’m all in on Amazon, sales are maintaining and not starting to dip, like you would expect three months after the release of a best seller. So far, June is going to be at least as successful as May was and that’s a good thing. Because sales of Corvette are eventually coming down. That’s normal.

Next month, I’m releasing a new novella set after the Starstrikers novel. I’ll do the usual pre-sale thing for a week before it launches and then hit my reader list with the announcement of when it comes out. So far my most successful pre-release was Devon’s Blade, but Corvette was close. I’d love to get at least 30 pre-sales of K’nat Trap so that launch day will make a splash. K’nat Trap will debut at $2.99 so that if needed, I can run sales on it later.

When you write your own novels and publish them yourself, like I do, you have to be part writer, part editor, part salesman and part cheerleader for your own work. It’s not easy and most writers decide to quite after seeing how much work is involved. But for those of us who persevere, you can find some success.

Hopefully K’nat Trap will have some success and that will carry sales over to the end of summer when I hope to be finished with Corvette II. I will try to get the third Corvette book out by Christmas to boost sales again. We’ll see if that happens. Starting next year I will be writing Book 5 of the Star Saga and that will take me much longer than the novellas. I hope to have it ready to publish by Fall of next year.

How well the Corvette sequels do, will determine how many more books in that series I write. If after the third book people are still loving them, I have plans to write another trilogy using the main character. So I could be writing more Captain Vance novellas on into 2018.

Below is the rise from obscurity that happened for me when I released Corvette in late March. The only thing that has sustained me three months later is my back list. I have far fewer sales for the other books in my series, but enough to keep income at a decent rate. Ideally, I would love to release a new novel every three months. But I simply don’t have that kind of time for writing. I suppose that will keep me at my day job until retirement or a movie deal. ;-) Which I’m totally fine with. At this rate I’m looking at about 30-40K per year from my fiction writing. Which is not a bad second job.

 

 

Corvette Launch, Two Weeks On

I thought it was about time for a numbers update on my novella, Corvette. I launched it on Tuesday, 21 March 2017 with little fanfare as an Amazon KDP Select ebook and a KDP Paperback. I did no advertising for the launch. No Facebook ads, no Amazon ads and no BookBub or similar posts. I mentioned that it was available on Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook. I also hit my mailing list with the link to buy it.

As you can see, the first week it started a slow climb up until it reached a few best seller lists towards the end of the first week. Once on these lists it seemed to climb up until this past Friday when it jumped up to about page two on a couple of the lists. Lots of buyers on that day. As of today, Sunday the second of April it

To get on the lists, you need to be selling 35 or more per day. To make mid-list range or in the 50’s of a top 100 list you have to sell over 70 per day. It’s hard for any book to stay up that high for long and I’ve noticed other books bouncing around with mine for the mid 50’s on two lists.

Above you see the three lists Corvette is on at the time of this writing, Sunday afternoon. Hanging in there at mid-list for two and about page three for the fourth list. No idea how long this will continue. I’ll do another update in a week or two.

Below you see my combined sales of all my ebooks for the same time period.

I have a series called the Star Saga that is starting to sell now that Corvette is out. Corvette is a prequel to that series although no characters carry over. So I’m hoping readers find the series and start to make their way through it. The series has three numbered books with two novellas in between them. So a total of five books in the first trilogy. The chart below shows how the series books are slowly rising in sales. This is for April only and most of these only sell about one or two per month normally.

So I’m happy the series is getting some exposure, that was the whole reason this book was written. It’s supposed to be a low cost entry level novella to the Star Saga. I’m keeping Book 1 of the series at .99 cents to ensure the reader takes a chance on the actual series after liking Corvette. If they come back for Book 2, I charge my regular price – $2.99. All of my series novellas are priced at .99 cents for the ebooks.

So how well did the paperbacks do, you might be asking? Not so good. Paper is still not a viable option for me yet. These are my sales for March. So far in April there are no sales.

If you want to check out Corvette you can get it here.

Post Release Numbers

Thought I’d show you the numbers for the week after Corvette’s release. I do this not to brag or to belabor how little money I make on writing, but to help others understand what to expect. So far this book is turning out to be more interesting than any other release I’ve done. I’ve had an out of nowhere hit before and the sales numbers for that were in the hundreds per day. Most of my books start with maybe twenty or so sales and then putter out to about one a day for a while and then a couple per month. Corvette started reasonably well and has showed some staying power over the week.

Here are the numbers just before the weekend.

You can see the spike on release day, in this case I picked a Tuesday (21st March) which is when the Big 5 publishers typically release books. After that the sales take a hit but are still not too shabby. Then they finish the week above 10 books per day. This is where I started to realize this book was sticky. The fall off at the end is just when I took the snapshot early Saturday morning. The red line is all ebook sales and the black line on the same chart is all paperback sales. The blue line represents pages read by the KDP Select program which I enrolled this book into for the first 90 days to generate interest.

Here’s the breakdown of sales to date for March. Again, this was taken early Saturday morning. Corvette is doing very well with 60 ebook sales. Devon’s Blade is still selling well despite falling to the mid 500,000 ranking. Everything else is just curiosity. What’s interesting is that Books 1, 2, and 3 in my Star Saga series each have at least one sale. This means at least one person is taking a chance on reading the series. I hope that after reading Corvette, I start to see their numbers going up. The whole point of Corvette is to have it be a gateway book to the series.

 

This is a screenshot of the rankings on the book’s Amazon page taken early Saturday. The book has been as low as 10,000 and as high as 16,000 for the week. It’s never gone below 100 on any list but likes to hover just under 200 on a few of them. This puts the book out of sight for even the most bored list readers. So clearly you have to sell more than twenty books a day to get under a hundred on a list. Being in Select is helping get it some visibility for sure.

What about paperbacks, you ask? I’ve sold two Corvette paperbacks. Which is exactly why I’ve never done them before. But enough people who know me have said they would like to purchase them so I can sign them to make it worth going the KDP Paperback route on the whole series. So by the end of April I’ll probably have all of them in paperback. If nothing else it will be fun to have a vanity shelf.

Below you see the numbers come Sunday morning.

Late Saturday before turning in I took this screenshot of the rankings. I think that may have been the best day yet.

Again, more early Sunday results.

The sales numbers for Corvette and hence the Star Saga series are still pretty much small potatoes but they are better than normal and I’ll take them. I’m curious if anyone will feel the need to review the book as time goes on. I’ll do another post on the numbers some time next month to determine how well the book has done. I expect to launch another novella from the series later in summer. In the meantime, thanks for buying Corvette and I hope you carry on with the Star Saga.

 

 

Post Release Day Numbers

Sometimes I do an inside baseball post about publishing and this is one of those posts. If you are a writer who self publishes you’ll find this interesting. If you’re not, feel free to skip it.

Yesterday was a the Release Day for my latest novella, Corvette. This book is intended to be the gateway to my Star Saga series. It is set about thirty years before the series and it features no characters from the series. It is my first conscious attempt to write to market. In other words, the entire story is fashioned to reflect the common tropes in self published Military SF as of last year when I wrote it.

I did no formal advertising as in paid-for ads before the launch. I mentioned it on my blog and in all forms of my social media up to a week before launch. I hit my list with it at the start of the month and the day of the launch with a reminder email. I have about 500-ish contacts on my email newsletter.

My social media reach are as follows: Twitter – 900 followers, GooglePlus – 1,000 followers, Facebook – 87 Reaches.

I don’t have any current stats for my blog.

The book is exclusive to Amazon for ninety days. It has a KDP Paperback version available. The ebook is .99 cents and the paperback is $6.99.

Total Pre-Order Sales 31
Total Ebook Sales 37
Total Paperback Sales 1
 Total Sales 69
 Commissions  $30-ish
Best Amazon Rank 10,444

#187 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military > Space Fleet

#191 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military > Space Fleet

#262 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera

Analysis

I sold 68 ebooks and one paperback. I garnered no reviews. Despite having a handful of beta readers. More arm twisting is required. I made it onto three lists and managed to crack the under 200 rank for two of them. Unfortunately, that’s not going to sustain the book on those lists. You have to get to #20 on a list to achieve enough velocity to do well. Selling only 68 copies won’t get you there.

 

 

 

Using Google Docs For Novel Writing

I recently got a request to do a post about how I’m using Google Docs to write my novels. Looking back over some old posts, I already covered this a year ago, and you can read that article here. I’ve now written two novels and I’m currently working on a third using the Google word processing software. I’m pretty much doing the same thing I started out doing except I’m no longer stitching together chapters to make a whole manuscript. I’m just writing linearly, the same way I used to write in Word. I can hear all the Scrivener users gasping. People still write this way folks, it isn’t so crazy. It’s also how you read a novel.

I still outline pretty extensively before starting a first drive. By using Google’s spreadsheet program I can have them both open in tabs and easily see them with one click. I can also keep all my images and notes in a folder and access them from any tab of my browser. The biggest reason I’m using Google Docs instead of LibreOffice is because during the first draft, I don’t want a dead laptop to kill my draft. If my lappy dies, I can grab a nearby Chromebook and carry on cranking out the word pies.

You may recall that I use Linux as my operating system. I normally run Ubuntu with the Unity desktop but this week I’ve switched to a more minimal look with the Gnome Desktop. Still running Ubuntu 16.10 under the covers. Anyway, in the above screenshot you can see my browser and a PDF of a screenplay that is my first draft outline for Betweos, my WIP.

I have found a add-on for GDocs that offers a TOC or Table Of Contents on the right. I like this because it lets me easily jump to whichever chapter I like. I set the size of the editor to Fit and it leaves me a gutter in which to jot notes.

I also use Jamie Todd Rubin’s word count and tracker program that you can read about on his blog. I have it set to record my word count at two in the afternoon which is well past my normal lunch hour writing sprints. It lets you know all the days you didn’t write by filling them with zeroes. But it’s nice to have a record without actually recording it into a spreadsheet after each session.

Above is part of the word count tracker spreadsheet for Betweos.

Because of the way Jamie’s software works, I have to keep my active WIP in a folder called SANDBOX. I have that located in my Fiction folder along with all my other stories. You can see the tracker spreadsheet lives there too, along with programs provided by Jamie.

My Betweos novel folder holds all my notes, outlines and misc stuff. You can look at images in the folders using this screen shown below.

Because I’m using a screenplay as my outline for Betweos, I have the screenplay up as a PDF and I Alt+Tab between them as needed. Below you see the same scene in both formats. I wrote the screenplay when I was in my early twenties. That was a loooooonnng time ago.

My novel outlines are exactly the same as they have always been, I just didn’t use one for this novel. My next novel is going to be a Mystery under my other writing handle – Johnny Batch. I’ll be back to a regular spreadsheet style outline for that novel.

I started writing Betweos in mid October of last year and as of now, late February of 2017, I’m only halfway through it. I need to buckle down and get this draft completed before summer. That’s when I’m supposed to start writing the next novel. I hope this short update post was informative for you. Ask away in the comments if you have questions.

Writing Update August, 2016

It’s been a while since I posted around here. Sorry about that. Summer is when I tend to stay inside and write and not venture into the furnace of my garage. So not much modelling gets done. Right now we have 90+ degree days and lots of smoke from nearby fires. So breathing is a challenge some days too.

I have, however, been working on my current novel, Corvette. I’ve left the Atom editor and migrated just the manuscript to Google Docs. I still use Atom for all my notes and outline, but all my writing is now linear in one GDoc. I’ve set up the writing scripts of Jamie Todd Rubin to help with word counts. I refer back to my outline open on another desktop, as I write. Currently I’m about a hundred pages into the draft and I’ve already added a few chapters to the outline. Actually, I don’t change the outline, I just add things to the manuscript. The outline is just a blueprint for the author and no reader ever sees it, so I don’t make it match the manuscript. That’s just wasting time and effort.

AtomOutlineCorvette

In the above screenshot of my outline, chapter 11 does not match up with where I’m at in the story or the actual draft. Pictured above in the manuscript is the last paragraph of chapter 12. Looking at the Google Doc above, you’ll notice I am using a chapter outline. This makes jumping from chapter to chapter easier. Each scene in the chapter is separated by three stars. One oddity is chapter 9 witch is one long scene.

I’m well into the second act of the story and I’ve realized that there might not be enough story to make a three hundred word novel. So I’m drifting a bit and adding character related materiel that might normally only be added in a second draft. I’m also considering whether this might be more of a novella. Normally you shouldn’t worry about all that on a first draft. Just write the story and then analyze it after you’re done. In many ways though, until you write about 20K words of a novel, you’re just not sure if you really know the characters as well as you need to. So sometimes a good examination of characters is needed to keep the reader engaged and story moving forward. And that’s where I’m at right now.

I’d like to be done with this novel before October, so I need to keep churning word counts on a daily basis to make that goal.

 

Atom’s Back

I finally had a moment to investigate why Atom was refusing to let me type on the pages of my current WIP. It turns out that it must of been some kind of bug in the file system reader. I opened a different folder and then closed Atom and reopened it. Then I opened the novel folders and suddenly things were back to normal. Strange. I suppose it had something to do with using Dropbox folders and the fact that I rarely close programs. So my new SOP is to close Atom after I finish a writing sprint.

While Atom was down, I used Bluefish HTML editor to write Corvette. But that was only for a few sprints. Happy to report no problems using Bluefish or reading the newly created files with a working Atom editor. So for today’s lunchtime sprint, I’m back in the saddle again and raring to write. Below is a screenshot from the Bluefish webpage. Still one of the best HTML editors on Linux.

bluefish-2.2.6

My Next Novel

Being an Indie novelist I usually don’t hold many secrets about the stories I write. It seems counter to the cause, which is to get known. If you never talk about your work, nobody will ever know about it or you. So I often prattle on about my works in progress and build models of the ships in my stories and share them here and there and everywhere. But for my next novel, I’m going black with it. You’ll likely get progress reports, but probably not any screenshots of my writing program. You’ll know when I finish drafts and when I finish edits but then you might not hear about it anymore for long stretches of time. In that time though, I’ll be writing other stories and talking all about them.

My next novel is a stand alone, Science Fiction story that I’m just not going to say much about. It’s got a killer premise and theme and it will be the most layered story I’ve ever written. The idea for this one came from my brother nearly thirty years ago. We’ve been collaborating on it ever since in private conversations. I’ve written a few chapters of it over the years and I’ve even written it as a screenplay. But the story is very complex and unique so I’ve never felt confident enough as a writer to be able to pull it off. Until now.

The only thing I’m willing to say about this project at this point is the title (below) and that I’ll be sending the finished manuscript to traditional publishers until every last one of them says no to it. So if after a few years from finishing it they all reject it, then I’ll put it out there myself, but I want to give them a chance to see it first because I think its the kind of story that Traditional Publishing is asking for and would do well by.

betweos_WEB_BANNER