Yeah, I’ve been “off” for two weeks now, and I’m taking one more week before restarting after Xmas weekend. It’s counter-intuitive for those of us in selfpub to say, “I will be more productive if I’m NOT productive the last three weeks of the year.” But getting off that hamster wheel gives you time to “go home and re-examine your life,” and maybe make some strategic decisions you couldn’t make otherwise.
I can see where I went off course this year, starting in the summer. We all loved Werewolves of Brooklyn on TeamVance, but, I made the mistakes of:
- Giving away 4,000 copies on a BookBub.
- Doing a giveaway contest on the book tour. Because that’s 1,000 people who signed up to win a free book – and lottery mentality says, I won’t buy it because I could win it; by the time they don’t win it, they’ve forgotten all about it.
- Not putting a “three wolf moon with a naked torso” cover on it (which I don’t regret – it’s not your grandma’s shifter novel, and the cover model IS King Albeus, so that’s that).
- Willfully forgetting that only my core audience would “cross over” with me into paranormal – that romance audiences are often narrowly focused on one mini-genre (GFY, sweet romance, etc.).
I don’t think it was a “mistake” to take a month off for Adam Vance and Artifice. I needed time away from hot sexin’ and gayness. But it did cost me a month of lucrative productivity.
It was a mistake to selfpub A Great Prince, since I had NO IDEA how to promote a heterom, and greed/magical thinking got me thinking it would “sell itself.” Yeah – after all this time in the biz, still delusional. If I do another heterom, I know folks who can sell it if it’s good/marketable, and I won’t make that mistake again.
At least I got Marc and Jesse started – and yeah, that whole “Satoshi” thing seems to have blown over, so I’m just gonna move on, incorporating that crisis into the plot.
So yeah, considering that the second half of the year was one poor strategic decision after another…I’m doing okay 🙂 I’m going to need a second income for a while, but more on that later.
And it’s seeing why I’m okay that’s led me to make my strategic decisions for the next year. Looking at what still sells, there are three titles out of my 37 in-print novels and stories that keep bringing in the bacon:
And they all have things in common: They’re Big Contemporary Romance, with backstory, great secondary characters, hot sexin’, diligent research, and lots of plot/action. THAT is what I need to do for some time to come. Mini-Thorn Birds books. Not generations, but years and years passing. ALTB is the outlier to that in the size/time departments, but it’s still in line with the other titles anyway. Marc and Jesse do “okay,” and I love them, and I need to build a series, so onward and upward with that, and we’ll see.
I feel going into 2016 like I’m King Brad II, inheriting a kingdom that my father, Brad I, brought into being, but who died leaving it nearly bankrupt. So it’s for me to take a pass on his style of rulership, to avoid Quixotic wars and attempts at glory, and rebuild the mercantile heart of my country.
So! That means getting Strength in Numbers out as soon as feasible. And then I’m pretty sure it’s On My Honor, the cop novel I’ve had in mind for a while. Hot Cops: that’s a subgenre I haven’t fucked with yet 🙂 And yes of course it will address contemporary issues about policing and the policed communities, because to write a “cop novel” now without that, even a gayrom, is whistling in the motherfucking wind.
Oh, yeah, and another thing. It’s interracial. It’s a white cop and a biracial journalist. I wrestled with that dynamic for a while, and the only reason I could think not to do it was Sales and Marketing – the peeps do love their pairs of 6’4″ 200 pound white boys. Shit, there were people who didn’t like Faith because Rocky was short! I made him short because most rocks stars are tiny, dammit! (And it was a nice contrast to put him with big ole Dex Dexter.)
That sucks, but now is not the time to get into “all that.” Suffice it to say that after all the “can F write M etc.” shit, I’ve come to believe that anyone is allowed to take up the challenge of writing from a “felt viewpoint.” It IS a challenge – you can fuck it up! You can be attacked just for trying! I’ve had African-American secondary characters in Faith and Circumstances, and I think I’ve acquitted myself there. I guess I’m just tired of feeling like “the market” has to dictate how far I go with that.
I know! Here I go again! Defying the market! But, by the same token, Stan Lee Rule – I gotta do the story the way the story’s gotta be done. I have to recapture that delusional arrogant confidence I had when I wrote GTC – that I would be King! It was my Destiny! And considering how many people never get to quit their jobs and do this F/T, I did become King, or at least ruler of a decent principality.
So for at least the first six months of the year, I’ll be adhering to the fundamentals that made me independent in the first place – Big Stories with Big Ambitions.
And I’m probably gonna need to get a “day job” of some sort – I know, ain’t never goin’ back to Cubicle City, and I’m not. Not on a F/T basis, anyway. But until I can refill my nation’s coffers, the income from books in print now isn’t covering all my expenses. Temping isn’t off the table, though editing and freelancing are preferable. And I’ll be more creative if I can take the time pressure off my bank account.
That’s all for now! Happy Shopping Holiday of Your Choice!