I can tell already that this is going to be a tougher status update to write than most of the previous ones have been. The last few months have been incredibly busy, but most of the work has been foundational in nature, which means it doesn’t feel like I have a ton to show for all of my effort.
Firstly, in case you missed the last email I sent out, we had our third child in June, and while he’s been a great sleeper, a good eater, and Katie has been a trooper, there has been some unavoidable disruption to my work schedule. We’re all glad to have him, and I knew going into things that there would be a disruption there for me this summer, but I ended up being much busier than expected on the marketing side of things, which meant that the disruption (from the writing side of things) has been a lot more extensive and lasted a lot longer than I’d been planning on.
On the editing side of things, there are a few more moving pieces than I’m used to (for reasons which will become clear as I release my next few books), which means that the editing is starting to stack up. Currently I’ve got Dystopian #3 (The Warlord) back from my editors and out to my advance readers.
I haven’t heard back from all of my advance readers yet, and I think I’ve still got a few edits from those that I have heard back from that I need to get into the current master file, but if I can shake loose a solid half day or so to dedicate to finishing off the edits and formatting the various formats that the retailers need, I’ll be able to get The Warlord off to my Launch Team, at which point it will be 6 weeks or so from going live.
The Founder (Dystopian #4) has been through the first few rounds of edits, including the edits from RJ, which means it just needs to go through the last round of edits and then it can go out to my advance readers. Under normal circumstances I would say it was 3 months from going live. With the current backlog of work on the marketing side of things (more on that below), I can’t say for sure how long we’re actually going to be looking at, but it’s a safe bet at this point that it will be more than 3 months.
The Outsider (Dystopian #5) has been through my editing pass and has been gone through by my proofer, which means that I just need to get her fixes into my master file and then it will be ready for Katie to read it. Under normal circumanstances she would be chomping at the bit for me to get through my edits so that she could get started on the book (especially given the way that The Founder ends), but things have been so busy here that I’ve heard barely a peep out of her regarding the fact that I haven’t finished editing her book. 🙂
Finally, the rough draft for The Desolation (Dystopian #6) is finished, but still needs my editing pass before it can go off to my proofer. I think I mentioned this in one of my past updates, but The Desolation is a monster. It came in at ~213k words, and is far and away the biggest book I’ve ever written. As I was writing it I kept thinking that I needed to find a stopping point and break it into more than one book, but the action was coming too fast and furious, so I just continued writing and figured that I would leave that question for post-production.
I’ll still be looking for a break point or points to split The Desolation into two or three books if possible, but it may very well end up shipping out as one book.
In spite of having many more books out than I had at the beginning of 2014, this year has been the lowest sells wise since we ended 2013, which has necessitated some changes with regards to how I spend my time as compared to how I was planning on spending my time.
In 2016 I’ve spent quite a bit of time and money on Facebook ads with very mixed results, and was frankly running out of ideas when a fellow author who has experienced a significant drop in sells of her own books recently figured out that her drop in sales matched up very well with the multi-author bundle she was in being pulled down.
It was like a lightbulb went on for me. I went back through my records and realized that my Facebook ads had corresponded almost perfectly with the 6 months that the first bundle I organized was free, and I’d most likely mistaken a significant percentage of my sales as being from the Facebook ads when in fact they had more than likely been because of the bundle.
I tend not to do things by half measures, and I desperately want to be able to continue writing full time into 2017 and beyond, so I’ve jumped into the process of organizing additional bundles with everything I have.
Currently I have 5 bundles that are in various stages of being organized and prepared to go live. I’ve pulled together a group of dozens of very talented authors, and I’m hand picking each book that goes into all 5 of the bundles. When those five bundles, consisting of 50 different, amazing stories go live, I’m hoping that things will jump up to the point that Katie and I can commit to another 12+ months of full-time writing.
The best part about the bundles is that while they are super time intensive to organize, the authors I’ve pulled together believe in what we’re doing so much that they’ve all committed to a 12-month term for the bundle so with any luck the bundles won’t just be a flash in the pan kind of thing, they should drive additional sales and excited new readers for a full year, which will mean that I can get back to spending less time marketing and more time writing—I would really like to finally have a year where I hit a million new words.
Things have changed so many times in the last 10 months that I couldn’t say for sure what the original plan was, but really it’s the timing of things that has changed rather than the order of the books I’m going to work on.
Most recently I was planning on marketing and helping out with the baby in July and August and then getting back to writing in September. October was to be an editing month, followed by another book in November and another editing month in December.
Part of me still hopes to do that around organizing the multi-author bundles. I really want to write a book in November so that I can participate in NaNoWriMo, but it’s increasingly likely that September will primarily be spent finishing off bundles and catching up on editing.
Possibly if things go well I’ll try to just write in October and November both and finish off the Compelled Chronicles in one long stretch, after which (assuming that I’m still able to continue writing full time) I’ll read through all of the Reflections and Dark Reflections books and then start in on a whole slew of new books with Alec, Adri and all of the rest of the crew in both timelines.
It’s not as good on the production side as I was hoping for when I started the year, but the release of Left at the very beginning of this year means that I’m still coming through on my promise to release at least one Reflections Universe book each year in spite of all of the other projects I took on to try and ensure that we can continue writing for many years to come.
As always, thank you all for your support!