So the blog tour is “off” for two days, and now seems like a good time to update the Gay Agenda for the year. Strength in Numbers is out and about and, while it’s not a best seller, it is putting some $ in my pants. I’m proud of it, I love it, my hard core loves it. I’m not having as much “post pubbing depression” about this one – I’m doing everything to flog it that I can: I timed the blog tour to actually coincide with the 30 Day Cliff this time, I boosted posts at Facebook, I’m running relentless daily book group molestation, I’m trying to get enticing 140 character pull quotes for Twitter, blah blah. I finally even got a mailing list! If it doesn’t sell, hey, it wasn’t because I didn’t run the best push-push-push that I could. And it’s a really good book.
“It’s a really good cyberthriller, why didn’t you just publish it as a cyberthriller without all the gayness?” Well, because it would have been one of about 10,000 other self published thrillers released that day. And without some Secret SEO Sauce and a pre-existing mailing list of 10,000 cyberthriller fans and intimate knowledge of Facebook Ad Sorcery and a handful of other more famous cyberthriller authors to logroll it for me…well, look what happened to A Great Prince. Was it a great heterom? Yeah, and my fans agree. But…I had no game plan for selling it. No fucking clue how to push a heterom. And it just sank like a stone.
Calling it a “book launch” is really an apt metaphor – a new book is like a rocket. It takes a tremendous amount of fuel to escape gravity. But…here’s where it gets tricky. It’s like a rocket that is launching at the exact same time as ten thousand other rockets on the same launch pad, and the gravity they all create serves to drag them all back down to Earth together. Only the most powerful rocket will escape the drag from the other rockets, and then, once it’s free of them and the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of say a #1 ranking on release day or whatever, then it’s smoother sailing. Then the rocket can cruise with much less power behind it. It’s not about the quality of the incredibly great device in the capsule; you could have the fucking Hubble Telescope in there, but if you don’t have the fuel to fight off those other rockets, you’re gonna crash.
Yeah, the gayness puts off people who might read it for the Bitcoin bits otherwise (might, if they ever knew it existed). But, writing it as gayrom, I have a built in audience for it. I’ll sell some copies at least!
And the fans love Marc and Jesse, and so do I – they’re like Nick and Nora, they’re smart and funny and their “HEA” will never be what it is at the end of most romances, a comfortable settling into a lifelong stasis.
I couldn’t write a series before, because I never had a pair of lovers who were not even close to “done” at the end, who would still have enough spark and conflict and excitement and yeah, even the risk that they’d go their separate ways. There’s always a risk with these two. They’re a challenge to each other. By the end of a conventional romance, the “dark secrets” are all known, the “hurts” are all healed, blah blah. Marc and Jesse would look at that, look at each other, and simultaneously pronounce: BORING. If they knew everything worth knowing about each other by the end of one book, they’d have gone their separate ways.
I don’t write HEA anymore because I can’t see life as HEA. Life is HFN. And looking back on it, my best stories have been HFN. Jamie and Tom brutally acknowledge that aging is going to be ugly for them, Jamie’s HIV and the buckets of pills he takes will probably ruin his organs, Tom’s prosthetic legs will probably lead to back problems and lifelong pain, and his PTSD isn’t magically “healed” at the end of the book. Roger and Brian are together but, yeah, Brian has a history of substance abuse and corner-cutting, and it’s a risk for Roger to be with him. Dane and Jackson end Apollo’s Curse with a kiss, but how is Dane really going to manage life without being able to write?
For me, the real “happy ending” is getting two people to connect, now, for now, and to not only feel but to feel safely. I’m optimistic enough to want to deny the old aphorism that “there are always two in the relationship, the lover and the loved.” And you hope that tomorrow is still “now,” and the next day. But you’re not blind, you know it might not be.
People change, their goals change, and things happen in their lives, sometimes catastrophic shit that reveals deeper chasms between them, dramatically different ways they handle hardship and disaster. My characters wouldn’t feel real to me, if I just paired them off at the end and stuck them in a china cabinet to gather dust, unmoving, unchanging.
I guess that’s why I never have a #1 bestseller 🙂
Anyway. The next novel is On My Honor, my “cop novel.” I have a full 5,000 word outline, and I’m deep into the research that will make my cop a “real cop” and not a paper dollie dressed as a cop. The research is not nearly as head-crackingly hard as the crypto/Bitcoin stuff, and there’s no chance of a Crisis That Blows Up My Plot like I had in December with the potential “Satoshi” exposure. That book I can guarantee by the middle of May at the latest. I’m off to Berlin June 6th, so a mid-May release gives me time to log the flogging and, for once in my life, actually take a freakin’ vacation after I finish a book.
Then, it’s up in the air, scheduling wise. Game Theory, aka Marc and Jesse #3 has been delegated to the subconscious for cogitation, and will occur later this year for sure. I need to do lots of research on game theory, at least, as with crypto/Bitcoin, as much as my dysnumeric brain can understand – mostly I’ll focus on how it’s applied as strategy in politics, business, war, etc. rather than how the mathematical formulas work. Leonid has a young genius who’s a real match for Marc and Jesse in the brains department, and it’s going to be quite the battle…
If Strength doesn’t fly at some point, I’ll need to defer #3. The sales problem with these books, I suspect, is that they’re not “two glass books.” You can’t flop out on the couch with your Kindle and drink two glasses of wine while you read and still follow everything that’s going on. Some people want MCs who are blacksmiths who, you know, bang on a piece of iron until hey kapoof pow it’s a Damascus Steel sword and don’t bore me with the details of how that’s like totally impossible. And I know I shouldn’t rag on other people’s books, even anonymously, but that level of laziness just enrages me. Jesus F. Christ, just Google it. Take five minutes to see what it takes to do that…
If weak sales remain the case on Strength, then #2 after On My Honor will be a book I was calling Other Than Honorable but, yeah, that sounds totally like On My Honor so that’s gotta go. That’s gonna be my Inglorious Basterds tribute – MC is a hero Marine who saved the day in a USS Cole-type situation, who should have received a medal but instead got booted by a hateful commander in the last days of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (thus the working title). But…he’s recruited into a Secret Special Forces group made up of talented superdudes who have all been booted from the “normal” Armed Forces for stupid reasons (like being gay) but who are too valuable to lose. And they go kick ass, America Fuck Yeah style! And the love interest is a Pentagon policy wonk, a real Jack Ryan type, who of course ends up in the field. Yeah…Tom Clancy would spin in his grave!
Whether it’s Theory or the Basterds book, that’ll be the fall release, say…September? Then, please FSM let me make enough money this year I can take off all of December and deal with SAD and not be beating my head against it trying to push out creative content anyway because I have no money and can’t take any time off.
And of course, the A Little Too Broken audiobook’s success or failure could possibly upend any or all of this. If it fails, that’s it for audiobooks. If it flies, well, that’ll push a lot of my time and resources into narrating and producing more of them.
ALL of which of course could be upended again tomorrow, if Amazon suddenly decides to change royalty structure or KENPC payments again. But, barring any serious clusterfuckery on their part, that’s the plan…