Feb 2016 Status Update

LeftCover

I’m trying to do a status update with every book launch (so that I can link to it in the release email rather than putting a bunch of extra information in the body of the email), and it’s almost time for Left to go live, which means that I need to get another update written and posted.

This time I want to include a 2015 in review aspect to the post.  2015 was a critical year in that in spite of Katie’s apparent willingness to continue to let things slowly build, I felt like she’d had to put off too many dreams for too long. I decided in 2015 that the book income needed to cover our living expenses or I would need to go back to a day job in order to make sure that we could provide for baby #3 whenever it arrived.

The numbers are in, and in addition to writing more than 495k new words, we spent more than 4 times as much on advertising as compared to the year before, which drove a 60% increase in book sales. That’s not quite as good as it sounds given that we still had to pay for the aforementioned advertising, editing, and all of the other normal business stuff like web hosting, but it meant that we managed to end the year having put money into savings for the first time since we quit to write full-time more than 3 years ago.

We hit my personal threshold for being able to continue writing full-time, and Katie seems happy with the results, which means that I get to keep telling all of the stories that seem to be piling up inside my head much more quickly than I can get them out. The trick now is just making sure that we can do that well for 2016—something that has me more than a little nervous given just how hard I worked last year and how little writing I actually got done, but that’s a feeling that I’m sure most of you can relate to in some form or fashion. Life is full of uncertainties and all we can do is work hard, be smart about where we’re spending our time, and try to leave enough wiggle room in our plans to cope with the curve balls that inevitably get sent our way.

2016 so far hasn’t looked very much like I thought it would. I set a new-year’s resolution of writing a million words in 2016 because I figured that was the best way to make sure that my readers got the books they’ve been waiting for, and then promptly got sucked into what has felt like an endless round of print proofing.

One of our big goals for 2015 was to get all of my books out in print so that we could more actively pursue relationships with independent bookstores. I ended up focusing on other projects for most of 2015, but with everything that Katie was getting done in the last half of January, it was looking like we just might manage to get caught up with getting print editions out for the first time ever—but only if I got busy laying out and proofing so that Katie could stay busy with the covers.

Just as it looked like we were getting to where we could see the end of the tunnel with regards to the print versions of the Reflections books, my desktop computer went kaput and I came down with the cold that Daughter #1 brought home from kindergarten. It was a disappointing week or so which has meant that I didn’t get anywhere nearly as much writing done so far this year as I planned on.

In some ways being sick for the better part of a week might have been a good thing though, because it forced me to slow down and think about the bigger picture again (something that I often don’t do enough of). Recently I’ve been trying to do a little writing 6 days a week month in and month out, but that’s not how I used to work. Before this most recent change to my writing process, I went for more than two years alternating writing one month and doing editing, marketing and admin the next month. It was a pretty good system that resulted in me writing 6 books a year, but even more than that, it let me focus on writing to the exclusion of almost everything else, and it let me feel okay about getting to some of the necessary but less fun aspects of business that have been falling by the wayside lately.

As a result of all of that, I’ve decided to go back to my old schedule in the hopes that it will keep me fresher and working more efficiently. It’s too soon to say for sure what that will do to my overall writing productivity. I have more recurring administrative stuff now than I used to deal with (emails, marketing, just staying on top of so many books), and the increase in sales in 2015 still wasn’t enough to let me hire a part-time administrative assistant to get to all of the stuff that seems to get in the way of actually sitting down and writing.

On the plus side, I’ve started dictating all of my stuff since the last time I was working my alternating monthly workflow, and I can dictate much more quickly than I can type. I seem to end up spending some extra time on the editing side of things, but that may be enough to offset some of the extra administrative overhead I’m dealing with.

It’s possible that I’ll end up getting a little bit less written in 2016, than I did in 2014, but if I can hit 600k words this year rather than the 495k I did in 2015, that will still be a massive improvement.

Now that I’ve buried the lead, I’m happy to announce that Left will go live on the 12th of this month, and that the following books all have print versions live with the new branding:

Broken, Torn, Trapped, Forsaken, Riven, Driven, Lost, Marked, Bound, Hunted, Ambushed & Shattered.

The four Guadel Chronicles books need reworked (I did the back covers instead of having Katie do them, so they aren’t as pretty), but the old versions are still available in the normal places.

Burned, Splintered, The Greater Darkness, and A Darkness Mirrored all have print proofs winging their way to Utah, and hopefully I’ve got them all right this time so that I can approve them with the printer and have them show up at the various retailers rather than having to upload a new version and order another round of proofs.

Reborn, Immortal, Endless, Stone Heart, The Society & The Destroyer are all finally laid out and ready to go on my end, which means that as soon as Katie gets the wraparound covers squared away I can load them up and order proofs.

Doing the wraparound cover for a new series is always a little challenging because there are a few dozen tiny decisions that have to be made with regards to everything from the typography on the spine to the background image on the back cover, but once we get all of that figured out, it seems like Katie can polish off a new print cover every day or two. Hopefully that means that we’ll be able to at least get the proofs ordered and headed our way by the end of the month, so that I can put the two or so hours per book required into checking the physical proofs.

Hopefully the print books ultimately help contribute enough extra sales that we’ll be able to justify bringing an assistant onboard sometime this year so that I can spend more time in 2017 writing. I seem to be a year behind on the print and completed series goals we set in 2015, so maybe 2017 will be the year I finally hit a million new words written in just 12 months.

18 thoughts on “Feb 2016 Status Update

    1. Dean Post author

      Thanks, Pamela.

      That’s the hope. In a lot of ways it was much easier when I was working for someone else and had to say ‘no’ to most family activities because I legitimately needed to be at work, but I believe that the purpose of this life is to make more responsibility for our actions rather than less.

      As tough as it is sometimes to juggle work and family time, I’m glad that I now have greater freedom to establish that balance for myself. Hopefully I can find the right balance–one that will still let me get plenty of books written!

      All the best,

      Dean

      Reply
  1. jennifer H

    Hi Dean,

    I loved Left!!!!!!!! Just finished it and can’t wait for the next book! I just looked at your release dates and it looks like you won’t have another reflections book this year? Is that correct? I understand that you have other stories to write and a business to run and a family as well! Lol but if you have time for another book this year could you make book 13 in the reflections series???? Please, please,pretty please????? Lol

    Reply
    1. Dean Post author

      Hi, Jennifer.

      I’m really glad to hear that you enjoyed Left! I’m planning on getting 3 more Reflections/Dark Reflections books written this year, the tricky part is all of the editing and other production tasks that kick in after I finish up the rough drafts.

      There are some pretty important pieces up in the air right now, but I’m hoping that my current release schedule is actually pretty conservative. If that’s the case, I might end up being able to get the next Reflections/Dark Reflections book out just before the end of 2016. It’s a bit of a long shot, but that’s what I’ll be working towards. No promises on if the book will be Reflections 13 or Dark Reflections 6, but right now I would be leaning towards Reflections 13. 🙂

      Thanks again for your kind words, and for sticking around for 12 installments of the Reflections Series.

      All the best,

      -Dean

      Reply
  2. Therese Kent

    I have just started to get into your series and am confused by the 2 different story lines with Adri and Alec. Would you mind trying to explain it to me

    Reply
    1. Dean Post author

      Hi, Therese.

      I’ve tried to explain the difference between the Reflections and Dark Reflections books on this page here on my site: https://deanwrites.com/deans-books/reflections-reading-order/

      Could you check it out (the piece you’re looking for is probably more the halfway down under the header “A note about the difference between the Reflections books and the Dark Reflections books:”)?

      If you have any questions after reading that, I would love to hear back from you (or even if you don’t have any questions) because that will help me fine-tune the explanation. Alternate timelines aren’t something readers are very used to running into, but I think it makes for an ever better world. 😉

      All the best,

      Dean

      Reply
  3. Ivett

    I fell in love with all the reflection and dark reflection books!! I just finished reading left! I’m speechless it was so amazing even though I felt reluctant to read it once I found out it was about Jessica but at the end I was so into it that I just can’t wait to see what happens next! It was definitely not the ending I was expecting but I loved it! Agh idk what to do with myself now that I’ve read them all 🙁

    Reply
    1. Dean Post author

      Hi, Ivett.

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad to hear that you’ve been enjoying the Reflections Universe so much. 🙂 I’m likewise glad that Left was such a pleasant surprise. I should probably stop sabotaging myself by writing books about the characters that everyone doesn’t want to read about, but there are just so many cool things that are supposed to happen to them.

      As far as what to do next, my suggestion is always going to be to try out one of my other series. 🙂 The Awakening has the benefit of being already done, and it’s another paranormal romance series so it’s got that in common with the Reflections series. If you’ve already read The Awakening, then you might want to try out A Broken World or The Compelled Chronicles, but whatever you decide, I’m glad that you took a chance on Left! 🙂

      All the best,

      Dean

      Reply
      1. Ivett

        Hi Dean (:
        Thank you for taking the time to reply! I guess we don’t want to read about those characters due to some of the actions and ways they behave in the past books like Jessica. It was awesome seeing what’s going on in her head and gave me a better understanding of her. Definitely worth it!! I’m so excited to see what’s going to happen with some of the other characters who where left in cliffhangers. I’m intrigued by certain actions by some of the characters and I just can’t wait to see what role they’ll play next or their background story. I don’t want to say names because I don’t want to give spoilers away. I’ll definately check out The awekening series (: thank you!!

        Reply
        1. Dean Post author

          Hi, Ivett.

          You’re most welcome–I always enjoy interacting with my readers! I hope that you enjoy Reborn and the rest of The Awakening Series!

          Regards,

          Dean

          Reply
  4. Inga

    Hi Dean

    Just finished Reflections/Dark Reflections have to admit I liked more Reflection series. Also I would really like to know what happened to Lucy? Will you continue her story?

    Reply
    1. Dean Post author

      Hi, Inga.

      Thanks for taking a moment to stop by! I’m glad that you enjoyed the Reflections books, and that you persevered through the Dark Reflections books even though they weren’t as much your cup of tea. I’m definitely planning on finishing Lucy’s story at some point in the not-too-distant future. I actually initially tried to write her into Driven along with Jasmin and Geoffrey, but just couldn’t get the pieces to come together like they needed to.

      I need to get through the editing currently on my plate, help with the new arrival that we’re expecting in the next few weeks around some marketing projects that have popped up, write the next two Compelled Chronicles books, and then I’ll get back to the Reflections Universe–including Lucy, Geoffrey and Melody.

      All the best,

      Dean

      Reply
  5. Stacy Gamlen

    Hi Dean
    I was just wondering if you can buy your books from your website because where I live you cannot buy them
    Thank you
    Stacy

    Reply
    1. Dean Post author

      Hi, Stacy.

      I haven’t been keen to add a shopping cart to my website because I haven’t wanted to deal with filing sales tax. Have you tried Smashwords.com? They are usually really good for people to purchase from all countries. Kobo.com also has a very international focus.

      Where do you live?

      Thanks,

      Dean

      Reply
  6. Prasi

    Hi Dean
    I was just wondering when in 2017 the next reflection story will be released. I just finished the 12th book and can’t wait any longer for the next.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Dean Post author

      Hi, Prasi.

      I’m afraid that there won’t be any Reflections books released in 2017. Going back to work full-time as an accountant along with having such a young family means that I don’t have much time for writing now. If book sales had continued strong in 2016, I would more than likely be working on the last Reflections book by now, but unfortunately a big chunk of people have chosen to pirate my books rather than paying for them, so writing full time is no longer an option. That means that progress on new books will be very slow–likely one book every year or two unless my sales pick back up generally, or I get much better response with people buying new releases than I have historically.

      I’ll send on email out to my mailing list as each new book becomes available.

      Regards,

      Dean

      Reply
  7. Trisha

    Hi Dean,

    Just finished the reflection series for the 8th time lol am really looking forward to the next book. So was just wondering if there has been any progress on it ☺☺☺

    Reply
    1. Dean Post author

      Hi, Trisha.

      I’m afraid that I haven’t been making as quick of progress as I would have liked. Since I’ve gone back to working a day job most of my time is already spoken for, and I’ve had some other commitments that have soaked up a big chunk of the time that wasn’t already spoken for by work.

      I’m happy to be able to say though that I’m almost ready to send The Outsider out to my Launch Team. Hopefully that means we’re only 2-3 months away from The Outsider going live on the various retail sites. Once that happens, the next writing task on my docket will be to edit The Desolation. Once that’s done, I can go back to writing new stuff. So, new books in the Reflections series is still a ways out, but I am making progress, albeit painfully slow progress.

      I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed the books so far–hang in there.

      Regards,

      Dean

      Reply

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