Four years, four months into this, and I’ve learned a lot.
Someone asked the other day what the number one thing I would pass on to myself as a newbie. It may surprise you. After much thought, what I came up with was this:
If you’re successful, you’ve bought yourself a job. Just like buying a liquor store, or a clothing outlet. A job can be rewarding, both economically and emotionally, but it’s very different than a lottery win, in that you are signing up for a long haul of showing up every day and doing the work.
That’s different than I thought when I started out. I kind of hoped that the old canard that you wrote a great novel, sold it to NY, and then sat back and got rich, was true. That you only needed to produce a little work over the years, and could devote lots of time to thinking great thoughts, traveling the world, observing, etc.
Maybe for a few of the very top earners who’ve been doing this for decades and can command seven and eight figure advances. Of which there are fewer than 100, by my estimation. But for the rest, and certainly for the self-published, it’s a job, just like showing up to work at Pixar or Disney and creating content is a job. If you don’t put in the time, your slot goes to someone else, and the world keeps turning, only without you getting paid as a writer.
That’s a harsh truth, because it basically says that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is not the equivalent of an annuity that pays out year after year, but more like a nice business where you still have to work nine to whenever, five to six days a week. Don’t punch your time card, your sales fade, you’re forgotten by all but a few die-hards, and someone steps in to fill the gap.
Which all implies that you’re successful. Your odds of being successful are lousy. Better than trad pub, but still, terrible. Just as your odds of being a pro musician are terrible if that’s what you aspire to, or a pro dancer, or a pro anything in the arts. Which brings me to another point: while it’s important to have a positive support group, delusion doesn’t help you succeed. Cheerleaders, assurances that you can do it, all that nonsense, doesn’t improve your odds. What does is no-nonsense counsel from those who have taken some bullets and learned lessons that might translate, and your own inner ability to motivate yourself – because like all jobs, there are plenty of days where you just don’t want to get out of bed to do the work.
Knowing all this, would I have done anything differently? Probably not. I’d already learned these harsh truths in other businesses. Those past experiences might have actually been one of the reasons I was able to break at the time I did. I didn’t bemoan the fact that I needed to create a compelling backlist to be taken seriously. I didn’t resent that it would take 12-14 hours a day. I didn’t insist that I was doing the best I could, as though that should earn me some reward. I come from a school of hard knocks where just showing up doesn’t get you a treat – nobody hands out A’s for effort in the real world. That shit stops at high school.
But it would have been nice to hear it going in. Would have confirmed I was approaching things correctly.
I got an email last night that made me think about this. An author bud of mine who has been struggling to get a toehold in his/her preferred genre took my advice and wrote a couple of books in a different genre, and saw his/her first four figure day yesterday. He/she asked me whether there was any secret that could take it to the next level. I responded that the secret was to put out a new volume every sixty days so your name appears on the hot new releases list with regularity and momentum is built with readers, and never forget that you’re there to entertain your readership – not to get too clever, or if you’re bored, change things up for your amusement. It’s a job. Do the work, do it well, and maybe you get paid for a while. That’s the secret.
I’ve given that advice to plenty of authors: pick a genre that can support your aspirations, write to reasonable quality for the genre’s expectations and publish with astonishing regularity, put forth a pro package, and pay attention to what’s working. Some now earn seven figures. That’s gratifying. Many don’t. That’s life.
So those are my ruminations on the biz. My new one, Emerald Buddha, is selling briskly, which is all good. Later this month BLACK in the Box releases, and next month, Rage of the Assassin, so a busy Fall for me.
Oh, and in the spirit of writing what your audience wants, I’ve caved in and am penning another in the JET series, tentatively titled JET – Incarcerated, which with any luck will be available by the end of the year. We’ll see. So far it’s a good one. But then again, I say that about all of ’em, so I can’t be trusted.
It’s the end of September, which means it’s time for the release of my sequel to my bestselling action adventure novel Ramsey’s Gold. The title of the sequel is Emerald Buddha, and it’s now available wherever fine ebooks are sold. Pre-orders have been huge, so I want to take this chance to thank everyone who clicked buy over the last three months. To those that didn’t, this is your big chance.
In order to kick the launch of this new epic into high gear, I’m running a Bookbub special on Ramsey’s Gold, the first book in the series, today only. My hope is that this will introduce the characters to a whole new set of readers, some of whom might like it enough to go on to get Emerald Buddha. We’ll see how that works. Fingers are crossed.
Emerald Buddha reunites Drake Ramsey, Allie, and Spencer, and plunges them headlong into a jungle adventure in the Golden Triangle, where nothing is as it seems. It introduces some new characters, one of which was a complete hoot to write – it won’t be hard to guess which one. Inspired in equal parts by some of my ex-hippy drinking buddies, and Donald Sutherland’s character in Kelly’s Heroes, this minor player took on a life of his own and became a major part of the book. I love when that happens, and hope you will too.
Here’s the cover. Click on it to take you to Amazon. Links to Apple B&N are below Enjoy the romp, and if you do, kindly leave reviews and tell a friend or three!
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/emerald-buddha-russell-blake/1121882944
Alex Shaw is a talented author I know from Facebook, as well as through mutual friends. He’s written not just a novella for my JET Series Kindle Worlds, but an entire, full blown novel! That’s exciting, and I hope everyone joins me in supporting his effort – it sounds amazing, and right up fans of the series’ alley. My questions are framed below, in italics, and Alex’s responses in plain text. It’s an interesting interview, so sit back and enjoy!
I’d been contracted by Amazon to write for Steve Konkoly’s ‘Perseid Collapse Kindle World’ and when the same opportunity came up for the JET I couldn’t say no. After reading the JET series I honestly became a fan and knew I’d have fun writing for it, and I did! In fact I enjoyed writing in Jet’s world so much that I ended up writing a novel and not a novella!
Jet and David appear in my novel, COLD SHADOW. As her controller, David sends Jet into rebel controlled eastern Ukraine to assassinate a former Mossad interrogator turned traitor. At the same time Aidan Snow, the MI6 hero of my series (COLD BLOOD, COLD BLACK and COLD EAST) is on a mission to rescue a British hostage held in Donetsk. Unbeknownst to Mossad or MI6, both missions will overlap as the pair of intelligence operatives join forces against the Russian backed insurgents of the Donetsk Peoples Republic.
‘Cold Shadow’ is very much in keeping with the JET series. It’s an action and adventure thriller. Jet and Aidan Snow have clear objectives, getting to them involves outwitting and outfighting a force vastly superior in numbers and firepower. Expect firefights, fist fights and explosions.
I’ve set Cold Shadow in Ukraine. It’s the largest country in Europe but not many authors, except me, have ever written about it. It’s an area I care about, and I wanted to expose further through my writing Russia’s aggressive actions towards Ukraine; its theft of Crimea and its occupation of the Donbas region.
Aidan Snow, is a former member of the SAS turned MI6 operative. Like me he has ties to Ukraine, having been an ex-pat there. He has a strong sense of natural justice, and is more cerebral than most ‘action heroes’ – he’s a thinker as well as a doer. I’d say he shares some character traits with protagonists such as James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher. I hope however he is unique enough to satisfy readers of the Jet series. I’ve included several of my other regular characters such as Vitaly Blazhevich, who is an operator for the SBU (the Ukrainian successor to the KGB). I like the relationship between Snow and Blazhevich, professionally and privately they get on well. There is always an element of jovial banter in their conversations.
My three Aidan Snow novels – COLD BLOOD, COLD BLACK and COLD EAST deal with terrorism, of one form or another, happening in and around the former Soviet Union. Most recently this has included the rise of ISIS (some fighters are Chechen) and Russian aggression in Ukraine. COLD SHADOW continues with this theme showing the result of Russia’s actions in Ukraine on the Ukrainian people.
It took me twelve years on and off to write my first novel. I started it when I was living in Ukraine and reading spy thrillers but finding that Ukraine had been ignored. So I decided to write what I wanted to read, spy thrillers set in and around Ukraine. My books sold well on Kindle when it launched in the UK and US. I happily self-published my work for five years until I was signed in July 2014 by Endeavour Press. This opened up many opportunities for me including the ability to join ITW (The International Thriller Writers organisation) and the CWA (the Crime Writers Association). In 2014 and again in 2015, my novels were nominated in the ITW Awards ‘Best Original ebook category’. I now describe myself as a fulltime stay at home dad and author, I write term time and in between school runs.
I have two more novellas for The Perseid Collapse Kindle Worlds series to write, a sequel to my Delta Force Vampire novel, a Nordic Noir crime thriller and of course the fourth Aidan Snow. Hopefully I’ll get this all done within the next year.
Never give up. In fact, give up giving up. If you don’t write your story no one will. I read recently that eighty percent of the population wants to write a book, but that only one percent ever does. Be the one percent.
Wise words, Alex. For more of Mr. Shaw, go to Amazon’s author page and check out his offerings: http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Shaw/e/B002EQ6R9G/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
There have been a number of recent articles by self-avowed authorities that advise new authors, specifically new self-published authors, on the proper number of novels to write per year. The consensus is usually to write few rather than many, which is difficult to argue if one buys into the falsehood that higher production speed is inverse to quality.
Of course, the world is filled with different skill levels, talent levels, and work ethics, which these click-bait screeds generally ignore. Picasso could jot out a sketch in seconds that was a collector’s item, while someone else armed with the same napkin and pencil could spend a year and wind up with a doodle.
Here’s my take: All things being equal (competent grasp of craft, reasonably interesting story to tell), I tend to think more like a publisher than like an author when evaluating the market and my production speed. That means that I view publishing as a commercial endeavor that does things like pay for my vices and cars and homes, and I develop production schedules based upon what will be required in order to hit my income goals for the year.
I could easily view the process as an artist, where my muse makes that decision, or where what I write is dictated by my desire to craft a unique vision of breathtaking originality and artistry. I have no problem with that approach, as long as all those who advance the artistic argument remember that the vast majority of artists starve.
I shoot for a happy medium, where the craft level is above the norms for my genre, and where the story lines and writing hit more right notes than wrong. If my publishing company had several thousand candidate MSs to choose from each year I would probably write fewer novels, because I could pay others pennies on the dollars for theirs, and that sure as hell beats working 12 hours a day, but because I’m the exclusive content creator for Me, Inc., I have to keep my shareholder (me) happy with what I have to work with, which is my output, nothing more.
Back to the assumption that underpins most of these articles, namely that faster production speed equates to reduced quality. It can. Unless it doesn’t. I can cite countless prodigiously prolific authors who produced at insane levels for decades, and who are recognized as not just competent, but in many cases, brilliant. So the core assumption driving the dogma is easily disprovable (Dickens, Burroughs, Asimov, Erle Stanley Gardner, King, and on and on), at least for some. And yet it persists.
I think it continues to rear its ugly head because those writing the articles mistake their abilities for the abilities of all, and thus if they can’t write more than a single novel of marketable quality per year, then nobody can. They simply ignore those who clearly can. Data filtering to support one’s pre-assumptions being a hallmark of pseudo-science and quackery.
The truth is that some can’t write well at any speed. Others take forever to generate high-quality prose. Still others can, and do, write at a high level, rather quickly. Just as some can sing out of the gate, others can after years of practice, and still others will never be more than tone deaf or the bane of Karaoke bars worldwide.
Quality is also highly subjective. One person’s trash is another’s treasure. I’m no fan of FSOG, and yet it basically paid Random House’s bonuses for the year, and is the most purchased book of the 21st Century (yes, I made that up, but it’s probably right, so bite me). Point being there have always been literary snobs who declare whatever is popular as trash unworthy of being read, and there always will be. Often, anything other than what they are laboring over, or something that’s won a prize, and thus is clearly anointed as being superior by the big brains that hand out awards.
Back to thinking like a publisher, which is to say, as a person involved in the packaging and selling of books. As an author you are a content creator for your publisher, who is also you, but whose mission differs, in that it is focused on marketing and selling books for maximum revenue and profit, whereas your author self is focused on crafting compelling work (which may or may not ultimately sell).
In an ideal world, your author self would hold regular meetings with your publisher self, and you’d discuss what would likely be most marketable, what production schedule would be ideal, etc. Then your author self would agree with your publisher self, and you’d have a game plan to follow, the success or failure thereof being revenue generated.
That’s kind of how I do it. Doesn’t mean it’s the only way, but it’s the way I naturally use as someone who loves to write, but comes from a business background. Don’t get me wrong – if a trad deal offering seven figures for one tome came along, I’d jump at it, and lovingly polish each sentence in a 100K word door stopper for a year or three – because I’m being paid to do so. But absent that, I have to sell books in the current market, where after 90 days, and in many cases, 30 days, the first wave of readers have bought your work, and you better have another waiting, or they move on to the next pretty face. Harsh reality, but business is filled with difficult truths, especially retail, which is what the book business is.
I tend to argue for several things: 1) Quality, meaning adequate craft, editing, packaging. 2) Production speed to meet income objectives. 3) Genre choices that will maximize possible success.
That’s it. I can’t tell you how to craft The Goldfinch or Infinite Jest. I can tell you that if you aren’t earning income selling books over the couple to thirteen years it takes to write them, your broke ass better have another gig to pay the rent, or you better be independently wealthy, or suck a mean…amount of juice from life in some other manner.
Because if you aren’t selling books in order to earn a living, writing is a hobby, not a vocation, and your hobby can take as long as it takes. If you’re creating content as a vocation, you have to produce, consistently, to standards your employer (the market, in this case) is willing to pay for, just as if you wrote software or scores for films or scripts for NBC. Somewhere in all these “writing fast is writing badly” articles, writing novels becomes a holy grail where you shouldn’t worry your pretty head over things like deadlines or generating income. Imagine if that was your approach at Pixar or Dreamworks. You’d last about twenty minutes.
So there’s my take on this latest tempest in a teapot. Produce what you can, at the speed you’re comfortable with, and the market will determine whether you’re going to make a living at it, or have a hobby you’re passionate about that produces little or no income. Nothing wrong with either approach.
And yes, there is an occasional lottery winner who takes a decade (supporting him/herself in other ways, as all hobbyists must) to write the great American novel, and it hits, rewarding them with riches. If your dream is to win a lottery, that’s not a bad aspiration. Mine isn’t a lottery win. Mine is to operate a business that makes decent revenue doing what I love, and entertain folks in the process.
So far so good. Now go buy my crap. Books don’t sell themselves…
I’m not at my best when I have a cold. I’ll say so right up front.
And I have one. It inevitably happens when I travel a lot, which I’ve been doing – stuffed into an aluminum tube with several hundred feverish passengers, a third of whom are hacking and sneezing till hell won’t have it.
So that’s my excuse for not writing more blogs and being a big fat whiner today. In fact, for not writing much of anything lately. I’ve taken a week off, and plan to take next week off too before moving on to my next project – my second to last novel of the year.
With any luck I’ll also have all of December off, too. And then it all starts over again for 2016, only at a radically decreased rate. With something like 50 novels out by then, it’s not going to really change my fortunes if I have 54, or 58, by the end of that 2016. So I’m going with four to five releases next year.
Unless my super secret stealth project with a massive talent who shall go nameless gains traction and we get it done. But no pressure (yes, I’m squint eyeing you, and you know who you are). And no wagering.
In other news, Emerald Buddha releases Sept 29th. Black In The Box end of Oct. Rage of the Assassin end of Nov. So plenty to read between now and the year’s end.
New Year will mark four and a half years of self-publishing, and four of making a better than fair living at it. That still boggles my mind – that I get paid to lounge around in my underwear inventing stories (and I don’t mean doing my taxes). If there’s a better job for me, I don’t know what it is. I mean, I could think of a couple, but I’m pretty sure they don’t actually exist except in porn films.
So that’s all I’ve got. Whining about my frailty and hawking my crap. Same as ever. Least I’m consistent.
JET: The Hunt is a thriller in the JET Series Kindle World which finds Jet stranded along with a Canadian cop on a remote island in Costa Rica. The pair discovers that the island is owned by an eccentric European aristocratic and serves a chillingly sinister purpose.
Confronted with an impossible challenge in which lives are at stake – their own included – Jet and the officer race against the clock to conquer pure evil.
A quick read, in which Jet stumbles upon grizzly secrets and faces heart-thumping battles, JET: The Hunt pays tribute to Richard Connell’s short story The Most Dangerous Game, a seminal work in the thriller genre.
Russell: How did you come to be interested in the JET Series Kindle World?
C.A.: I’d been a lurker for a while, eager to learn as much as I could from your accomplishments as an independently-published novelist. Having read a few of your books, I admired your pacing and style. I also detected a certain boldness, a confidence that said, “This is my story, my imagined world, and I’m going to put it out there, come what may. Let it find its following.” Pacing and confidence are two things, in particular, that I’ve struggled with as I venture into writing fiction. So when I saw that the JET Series Kindle World was being launched, I thought I’d give it a try – see what would happen if I stepped into your shoes, your world. It’s been a wonderful learning experience.
Russell: Tell us how your story links to the JET Series. Characters, setting, specific event? Is there any crossover or meetings between your characters and any of the original characters?
C.A.: JET: The Hunt takes place before the events of the first book in the JET series, before Jet settles in Trinidad. All she wants is to find a quiet, out-of-the-way place where she can be just an ordinary woman, leading an ordinary life. On her way to a remote monastery in the mountains in Costa Rica, she is assaulted and falls off a boat into a lake. A vacationing Canadian cop who witnesses this dives in to rescue her. The cop, Detective Sgt Phillip Palladino, is featured in a political thriller I’m completing, which has a working title of Run Girl, Run.
Russell: The JET Series books are fast-paced action and adventure stories. What genre(s) do you explore in your story?
C.A.: I worked in the mystery, suspense, & thriller genre. I find that I’m comfortable there as it allows for developing intrigue and also bursting into high-octane action. JET: The Hunt, in fact, pays tribute to one of the most admired and influential early works in the thriller genre, Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game, also known as The Hounds of Zaroff. It’s inspired many film-makers, writers, and playwrights, and I thought it would be fun to throw Jet and Dino (that’s the Canadian cop’s nickname) into the premise of that classic and see what happened.
Russell: The JET series has been set all over the world… the Middle East, Asia, South American, the Caribbean, etc. Tell us about where you set your story, and why?
C.A.: JET: The Hunt is set in Costa Rica. The specific location – an isolated private island in a remote lake – is fictitious. Small, peaceful, and out of the way, Costa Rica is a plausible country to which Jet would have tried to escape, and is close enough to Trinidad that she’d end up there after the events in JET: The Hunt. It was also plausible as a vacation destination for Dino, who, as will be seen in Run Girl, Run, is also trying to get away from a painful past.
Russell: Tell us a little about your main character(s). Why do you think readers will like him/her/it?
C.A.: Jet is the main character in the novella, and, of course, is known to your readers. In JET: The Hunt I tried to show the intelligence, bravery and strength that are characteristic of the heroine your readers have come to love.
Dino, the Canadian who is also stranded on the island with Jet, is the narrator for much of the story. He became a cop after retiring from the army. He’s an officer and very much a gentleman, and the attitude of protecting the “weaker sex” is ingrained in him. He just doesn’t know at the outset that that description doesn’t apply to Jet.
Russell: What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
C.A.: JET: The Hunt and Run Girl, Run both explore the corrupting influence of money, and the lust for power, which manifests itself in a variety of ways. The books also look at how, even when all evidence suggests there’s no hope for victory, the seemingly powerless among us can stand up the to seemingly all-powerful. The eternal battle between good and evil is, of course, in there as well.
A consistent theme in my work is women finding their strength to make an impact in a male-dominated society. Whereas Jet has training and deadly skills which give her a sense of fearlessness and empowerment, the narrator in Run Girl, Run feels compelled to fight, even if she isn’t sure that she has either the skills or the bravery required.
Readers can sign up for a sneak preview of Run Girl, Run, updates, and upcoming free goodies at http://CASankar.com.
Russell: Share some of your story about becoming a writer.
C.A.: Writing has been my life’s work and my passion. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about seven or eight, after I’d read a passage from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and was completely immersed in the world he created.
While in high school, I began writing for a national newspaper geared towards young readers. That lead to a wonderful and satisfying journalism career of two decades.
I left the newsroom in order to complete my first novel, one I would describe as a literary thriller. Rejection slips from publishers left a deep wound. That, and other challenges which left me winded, eventually led to my writing and publishing an inspirational book. This was in the early 2000s, before the Kindle was launched. The inspirational book was quite successful, reaching Canadian bestseller status within three months of its first print run.
For the last decade, most of my writing has been directed towards social justice advocacy. It’s very satisfying to put my writing skills towards protecting the vulnerable, promoting justice and equality, and trying to make the world a better place. But it sometimes gets pretty rough when mega corporations are your opponents and hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.
Nowadays, I’m at a phase in my life where I can excavate my long-cherished dream of being a writer of fiction.
It’s an invigorating challenge. In journalism and advocacy, the emphasis is on the information itself. Fiction, however, is about entertainment. Of course the information, whether it originates in the writer’s imagination or reality, must be credible. But a novel requires greater attention to style, and pace, and engaging writing that can hold a reader’s interest over several hours, or days.
I must add that, today, I feel encouraged to see that the barriers which had been traditionally put up by publishers are no more. The opportunity that Amazon offers authors to directly reach a wide audience is perhaps the most revolutionary and magical development in the publishing business in a long while.
Russell: What makes you interesting outside of your books?
C.A.: Whether I’m interesting or not is a judgment I’ll leave for others to make. Personally, I’ve not looked at myself or my life in those terms. I simply try to move through my allotted days in a way that allows me to best enjoy this experience of living, and to best contribute to Life, during my lifetime and for posterity. I don’t always succeed, though. Sometimes, I have to fight to pluck myself out of bouts of fear, despair and self-doubt.
Apart from fiction, I express myself through writing songs and composing music. I sometimes dabble in acrylic painting. I’ve got my gun license because I plan to hunt – for food, not for recreation; but because of work commitments, I haven’t been out on an expedition yet. I love Nature, and, as I reside in a small Canadian town, deep in the forest, I indulge myself by setting out on day-long, solo treks through the woods whenever I can. (So Jet and Rob’s journey to find Matt at his forest hide-out in “JET II: Betrayal” is one adventure that really resonated with me.)
Russell: What are you working on next, aside from the novella in the JET Series Kindle World?
Run Girl, Run is a political thriller in which an environmentalist sets out to hold a company to account for a radioactive spill and winds up in a dangerous romance which unveils secrets that rock the power structure in Ottawa and Washington. It’s partly set in Sylvann Lake, the fictional Canadian town that Dino say’s he’s from in JET: The Hunt. The novel also takes the reader on a romp through Monaco, Ottawa, Washington, D.C., Trinidad, and Florida, dropping in on the ultra-wealthy, the uber-powerful, and the underbelly of society along the way.
Another September, signaling the end of summer and the beginning of the autumn selling season. Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway. These days one never knows. I’m still waiting for my ship to come in, and am gazing hopefully at the hazy horizon.
The Solomon Curse, co-authored with the legendary Clive Cussler, released on Sept. 1 and is racing up the charts. It’s been a blast working with Clive, and I’ve learned a lot doing so. Apparently this old dog is still capable of learning a few new tricks, even if they’re simple ones like roll over and play dead, which not coincidentally describes my typical weekend night, but don’t get me started.
On Sept. 29th, the sequel to my adventure saga, Ramsey’s Gold, releases: Emerald Buddha! I’ve very excited about this series, and it’s done well so far. My hope is that everyone in America will fall so in love with it that they’ll be compelled to buy the books as Xmas gifts – or for that matter, for any reason, as long as their Visa clears.
Beyond that, am still traveling like a madman. Finished up Rage of the Assassin and am in second draft. Noodling around with a few ideas for what to write next (which is shorthand for staring at my navel).
That’s about all I have, folks. Oh, except for this bitchin’ new cover for JET 4.
Rage of the Assassin, the final installment in the Assassin series, which began with King of Swords (if you don’t count Night of the Assassin, the prequel), is now available for preorder on a November 17th release date.
The Assassin series was my first, and it did rather well since first launching almost four years ago. Continues to sell briskly, for which I’m grateful.
Not much else to say about it except that it’s chock full of twists, turns, reversals, and the unexpected. I rather like how it’s turning out thus far (I’m in the middle of writing it), and anticipate it will be a reader favorite.
Here’s the cover. Probably wouldn’t hurt to preorder it. Just saying.
I made a decision yesterday, when I saw the number of page reads I’d netted in the first month of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited 2.0 rollout.
The decision was an easy one. I want to find, more than anything else, new readers. I’ve given away probably close to a couple of million books, I’ve sold a boatload, I’ve blogged, done more interviews than Ali, promoted, marketed, etc.
But I’ve never had a JET novel in KU. Why, you ask?
Simple. I sell a ton on other platforms, so can’t afford to have those books exclusive to any one vendor. It’s not a vote against Amazon, who I love like a sibling that controls my pursestrings. It’s a vote for diversity, which is, in all things, generally good. Were Apple to offer a similar program, my decision would be the same.
I have about 25% of my backlist in KU at present. This ups it, but for the better, because the current payout is reasonable, meaning that if readers plow through the books (and I’ve done my job as an author and written something compelling enough to make them want to), I make as much as a sale. Perhaps more. As with all things Amazon, it depends. But it’s close enough for me to shrug and put em in for 90 days.
So folks who are members of the KU program can now read them free.
Which hopefully will translate into more readers familiar with my work.
Which will then theoretically lead to more sales of the series, which aren’t in KU, and won’t be.
We’ll see how the grand experiment goes.
In other news, JET – Kindle Worlds has been ramping up, and sales are brisk (I’ve read a few of the offerings, and am generally impressed by the level of the authors writing in the world. I’m one lucky dude). I’m pretty jazzed about that, because one never knows with a new thing – you have to keep experimenting, understanding that 90% of what you try is likely to fail.
Entrepreneurs, and authors, depend on the 10% that succeed. It’s the exceptions that keep us going. In a business of exceptions.
Here are the links for the Ops Files books: JET – Ops Files, and JET – Ops Files II, Terror Alert. They’re what I used to call “cracking good reads” – books that move like a freight train, don’t take themselves too seriously, and are as fun as caramel covered popcorn. They do not attempt to be Tolstoy. If you haven’t read them, you’re in for a treat. If you have, well, September’s right around the corner, and I’ve got my second Clive Cussler novel releasing at the top of the month – The Solomon Curse – and Emerald Buddha, the much anticipated sequel to Ramsey’s Gold, releasing near the end of the month, followed closely by BLACK In The Box in Oct, and Rage of the Assassin in November. So a busy period for me, and hopefully a joyful and prosperous one for you.
I’ve finished up BLACK In The Box, and am hard at work on Rage of the Assassin – the final tome in that series. Work is going swimmingly, and I’m delighted with both story lines, as well as the pacing.
My publishing schedule this year is a little crazy – Emerald Buddha in Sept along with the paperback version of The Eye of Heaven with Cussler, and the brand new co-authored The Solomon Curse. BLACK In The Box in Oct. Rage of the Assassin in Nov. Maybe something in December, maybe not. A third in the Drake Ramsey series by Feb. All of which I’ll write in 2015.
Which brings me to 2016: I’m thinking about releasing The Water Trilogy under the R.E. Blake moniker at some point next year, assuming I write it all. If not, well, I won’t, obviously. I think 2016 will hold at least two Ramsey’s books, and a couple of others, but that’s it. As I close in on 50 novels published, I don’t think I’m suffering from a lack of my work being available, so see no reason to kill myself on more than a novel every quarter, which in trad pub circles would be considered near miraculous, and for me would be a vacation.
I’m pleased to see that the JET Kindle Worlds launched with a bang, and several of the offerings are top ranked in both the Kindle Worlds store, as well as their genres. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Beyond which, I’ll be traveling a lot over the coming few months as I check out new places to live. Getting bored with Baja after a dozen years, so off in search of greener pastures. Life is an adventure, right?
Thanks for the continued support, folks. Been a hell of a four year ride. Looking forward to the next four, assuming an irate husband, my bad attitude, or questionable liver doesn’t do me in first.