Thursday, June 22, 2017

Time to get my edit on

If you're a fan of the HGTV show Fixer Upper--one of mine and Jen's favorite shows--you all know Chip Gaines' favorite day of them all: Demo Day. The day where it's time to gut the kitchen, uncover the shiplap, and expose the problems hidden behind the sheet rock prior to Chip fixing everything up and Joanna making it their clients' dream home.

(Seriously, I may watch this show a little too much.)

Today, with JJ9's first draft soaring over 95,000 words yesterday, I start doing a little demo work on my next release, Persuaded By The Reflections: A Thriller, the follow-up to The Long Crimson Line: A Thriller; call it Edit Day, if you will. Except I won't gut it all the way down to the studs and completely re-work it, nor will it take me a full day; that would be suicide, ladies and gentlemen.

This project will take me upward of a week, I believe. It's a 331-page, 135,000-plus word behemoth of a story that I haven't looked at since before noon on February 6, and it's time to look at this with fresh eyes. There will be new words added, I know this: there is detail I didn't put in the first draft, detail I snagged while driving through Worcester in March. And I'm sure there will be some words which don't fit the story carved out.

From what I recall in showing bits and bobs to author friends, they love the writing, so it is my hope that I won't have to do too much to it. But I'm not relying on that thought; I have to make this book better than it already is--this could be the book that does more than define me.

It could be the book that sends me into the stratosphere.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A few loosey-goosey updates

Since I don't have much time to spare this weekend--today is an errands-and-laundry day, and tomorrow is the first day of the Clark High School Basketball Tournament and I'm working it all day; and Monday is a travel day--I wanted to go over a few things with you that I haven't mentioned here recently.

First off, Persuaded By The Reflections is finished. The first draft is, anyway. The MS clocked in at a little over 135,000 words, and let me tell you: I'm overjoyed by that total. At it stands, its first draft total is slightly less than what I wrote for Redeemed, but I published that book at 132,000 and some change. I don't expect to make any cuts to Persuaded; if anything, I'm going to enhance the story and add to it. Since I finished it on Feb. 6--the day after my Patriots won the Super Bowl--I'll give it a respectful three months to June 6 before I start editing.

If everything goes correctly, and if the pre-readers I have lined up give me the feedback I need and do so by the end of August/middle of September, I see no reason why this book can't be in your hands by the end of November. The pessimistic side of me says January or February of next year, which would mean nearly a year between releases.

And maybe in hardcover? We'll see about that.

Secondly, the launch of Ticket Agent went fairly well. There was one day this week where I didn't sell a copy, but so far, so good. Would love more eyes on it. I'd actually like more eyes on the entirety of the now-eight book series: I think I've said this before, that if half the people who downloaded Model Agent for free liked it and moved on with the series--it's $2.99 for each digital book, people--I would be a happy miser indeed, and I wouldn't have to cover high school sports again (although there's a part of me feels that I'm being pushed out of that profession right now, but that's another story). That's the ultimate goal, to get out of sportswriting on my own terms. Getting solid sell-through in the Agent series will aid in me achieving that goal.

Third, I have an outline for the ninth Agent novel, Scouring Agent, printed up. I've been thinking about what I'm going to do in Scouring Agent since November--actually, I had an inkling of one scene back in February or March of 2016, and it just built from there--and I've finally put it all together. I made the outline linear yesterday; before, the file was just a jumbled, out-of-order series of notes. Now it's a four-page treatment of awesome, and today I can see the book clearer than I did last year. This novel will have a different feel to it--at least that's how I intend it--and I'm planning on starting it next Thursday, after I get back from Cape Cod. What I may do is similar to what I did for Ticket: write a short story leading into it that I'll give away here on the blog, one that doesn't have the pop of the novel proper but gives the reader insight to what's happening, then start the novel proper.

Fourth, I've already started doing some brainstorming on my next series, which I plan to release under the D.L. Boyd name. Can't say much more on that right now.

And finally... I've lowered the price on The Peg-Legged Privateer's digital version, i.e. Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks. I had it listed at $4.99 from its December 12 release until earlier this week, and at that price, I only sold 15 copies. While I am grateful for those who bought it at $4.99, I hadn't sold a single copy in about a month, and let's admit it, folks: this is a volume business. I've expressed misgivings in the past about being able to command a price higher than $2.99 and do so with regular volume, and I think this experiment proves that I can't command a higher price. I feel this book--my return to the fantasy genre--is better than anything in The Obloeron Saga, and should have a chance to perform well, especially if I want to write a second book using these characters. At $2.99, I'm hoping to do volume sales. If you haven't taken Paulina and the Good Queen Bess out for a spin yet, you can do so at this link. A good price for a good book.

Enjoy your weekend, and by all means, pick up a solid read.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Book Day 26: TICKET AGENT is here

The day that everyone loves is here.

And no, I'm not talking about Valentine's Day--although if that's the way you roll, consider this your Valentine's gift from me. Simply put, it's St. Jackie-tine's Day!

In other words, Ticket Agent: A Thriller is now here and available and all that!

In the eighth full-length adventure of the blonde bombshell, Jaclyn and Tom are split up by a devious international tycoon who has his fingers in several entities, and they are following the clues laid out--and with the help of Tasha and Salt, the clues that aren't exactly out in the open.

You can get your copy at the links below:

US Kindle
UK Kindle
Apple iBooks

Please note: the trade paperback files have not been approved yet. When they are, they will be under the Kindle links. I will update the blog when it is listed.

Happy reading, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 6, 2017

A First Look: The cover to TICKET AGENT

As I promised on my Facebook fan page late last week, since the Patriots won the Super Bowl, I would post the cover to Ticket Agent: A Thriller today.

And since I'm a man of my word--well, if you were registered for my mailing list, you would have seen it Saturday evening--here it is:

It's coming VERY soon.

Special thanks to David Wood for the cover.

If you want to know when it's available for purchase, register for the mailing list. Newsletter recipients are the first to know EVERYTHING.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Paperbacks (well, some of them) Are Coming

You may recall that in the days before last weekend and the turn of the calendar, I posted my list of writing resolutions for 2017. One of my resolutions, right in the middle, was to learn how to do wraparound book covers for paperback books through CreateSpace.

As I wrote in that blog: Honestly, I should know how to do a wraparound.

Of course, there's a reason why I didn't, and as always, I'll be honest with you: I was scared. Scared to fuck up what is supposed to be one of the most important parts of a book. I can tell you that looking at the specs in order to create a cover--and this was before I discovered they had templates to do your wraparounds--I easily felt my rear end pucker with fear.

So with that known, I decided to outsource my paperbacks to people more competent in PhotoShop. First Trish, then D.W. Bruce gave me an awesome cover to Zombie Showdown. They delivered quality work, and I was proud of what they easily created.

But as my own PhotoShop skills increased, I felt I needed to learn how to do them myself, especially after last year's local Comic Con--July 29th, this year--made me realize that I needed more on-hand product. And as I wrote in early August, I wanted the product out in time for this past Christmas sales, but that didn't happen: the interior files I did that week, but I couldn't do the wraparounds. I sat on them. I decided just before the New Year that I needed to watch a tutorial on YouTube--seriously, there is a tutorial for everything on YouTube--and learn how to do it.

I found some time for the tutorial this past Friday, and right after that, I got bold: I did the wraparound cover to The Lone Bostonian, a book I've wanted to get into paperback for a while. It took me about half an hour or thereabouts, and I managed to create a solid wraparound.

Still, I wanted to puke afterward.

Saturday afternoon, I did the wraparounds for An Invitation To Drink... Or To Die: A Murder Mystery Novella and Scollay Love: A Romance, the latter under my D.L. Boyd pen name. The novella went through without a problem. Scollay Love, on the other hand... I didn't use the .psd for the front cover, since I deleted it a while back, and I found out earlier this morning there were bleed issues on the ebook cover version, which I used. As soon as I can afford to re-download the cover, I will re-do the .psd in order to get the paperback out there. So right now, Scollay Love is on hold for paperback.

And this morning, I did the covers to the Small Town P.I. series' individual books. Those went like clockwork, and probably took an hour of time. I'm expecting those five finished paperbacks, three novels and two novellas, to be available for sale by the end of this week.

I'm holding off on a few of the last books I need to do for now: Royal Switch, like I wrote in the resolutions blog, is on hold until the summer: I want to do a full revision on the story and move a few things around, quite possibly after I write the first draft to the ninth Jaclyn Johnson novel. In addition, I want to improve the cover and see what I can do with it.

In addition, the Obloeron novels aren't ready for singling--i.e., I don't have individual covers yet--so there are no Obloeron paperbacks at present. There are also no Obloeron single ebook versions yet, either. One thing at a time.

Still... getting these five books out is a great relief.

Now... about getting certain books out in hardcover--we're working on that.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Author's Resolutions, 2017

Over the last few days (hell, the last month), I’ve begun thinking about not only the 2017 business plan, but also my resolutions for the new year.

I have to be honest: I didn’t do well with my 2016 resolutions—I will blog more in 2016? Blogs were down from 41 to 29, not including this post. Significantly reduce my time on social media? You’re having a laugh—and I wondered if I would even do a list of resolutions because of this. Besides, I already did a post in early August about my goals for the next 12 months. I didn’t really need to do one.

But the great thing about setting goals and resolutions is that you have the ability to re-evaluate them at certain intervals, adjust things, and move on. And that’s what I’m doing today. Away we go:

I will write 250,000 words in 2017

I wrote approximately 219,000 words in 2016 over the course of two-plus books (the last 17,000 or so in The Peg-Legged Privateer, plus 101,437 in Ticket Agent, and the first 100,000 in Persuaded By The Reflections). I expect I’ll get another 25,000 words in Persuaded written before I wrap it up, but at 70,000 words I thought I would need only 50,000 more to finish; we can re-evaluate that when we get closer. It’s quite possible that Persuaded will surpass Redeemed in published words (132,000+), and maybe even Redeemed’s first draft total (140,177); I think it might. I don’t really know where the count will end up, and I’m hoping the first draft will be done by the end of February. That’s not a drop dead deadline for the book, but that’s my hopeful ending point. The end of February will mean a late summer edit, i.e. July or August, and a late December release. For March through June, I’m planning on writing the ninth Jaclyn Johnson novel, and I’m still up in the air about what I want to do in the second half of the year. Quite possibly the new series I mentioned this past August.

I want to publish two books, along with freshening up some of the back list, in 2017

Ticket Agent is currently with Kim—it’s her birthday, by the way, so happy birthday to Kim!—and I’ve given her until the end of January to get back notes and corrections to me so we can have a February release, much like we have had for Chemical (mid-February 2016) and Ticket (late January 2015) in recent years. Persuaded won’t be ready until late 2017, but I’m not going to publish it until it’s absolutely perfect. I’m also not going to go up against the holiday season. My hope is that the book will be published before the year is out, though. It could need some work after I do the editing, or it could be one of the greatest things I’ve ever written (after taking seven months to write the first draft, it might be). But not only that, I want to take some time to freshen up some of my older work; I may give Royal Switch a pass-through, mainly to see if I can fix the opening to the story and move that sluggish info dump somewhere else. I want to go back through two of my old John Fitch V titles and see if they can be fixed up and brought into my current writing level; I also want to freshen up the cover for A Galaxy At War, and possibly re-title it. And I want to get Furball & Feathers re-issued by the summer, too. I’ve done a sketch of potential cover art for it, but is it good enough to be published? I’m not too sure.

I want to learn how to do wrap-around covers for paperbacks in 2017

You’ll recall in August I declared that all of my work needs to be in paperback following my successful appearance at the Plastic City Comic Con on July 31. The second one is coming on July 30, 2017, in my hometown of Fitchburg. So far, 12 of my titles, including the entirety of the AGENT series, are in paperback, and I wanted to have the entire catalogue out in paperback by Thanksgiving in order to sell for the Christmas holiday. That didn’t happen, and that’s my fault. Honestly, I should know how to do a wrap-around; I can do a flat cover easily, and do it on the cheap, but not making it look cheap. So what I need to do is look for a tutorial in my spare time—what’s that?—and learn this important book creating tool.

I want to have The Obloeron Saga out in single copies for ebook and paperback in 2017

Pretty easy to do. I need covers for those, and I need the money to buy the artwork. That will happen when I can afford it.

I want to do better convention prep in time for PCCC in 2017

This will be some of the things I do in the first half of the year: get the Square credit card reader, get book stands, and, little by little, buy product for the event, i.e. ordering 10-15 copies of Zombie Showdown by the end of January and having them on-hand and ready, buying X of Ticket Agent and all the others, etc. In order to have an even more successful con, I need to have all of these things ready to go.

I want to get the rest of the AGENT series out in audiobook in 2017

Not exactly something in my control: this is akin to wanting 10,000 or more book sales in a year, because that’s something I can’t control. Laura Jennings has done a marvelous job on the first five audiobooks in the series, and I’m hoping she’ll continue in 2017.

I want to advertise more in 2017

I’m still here. I’m not going away any time soon. But still—my sales numbers do not reflect the numbers a full-time author should make, but again, that’s something that’s partially out of my control; I can’t rip people’s arms out of their sockets and make them buy my books. While I can turn a phrase with the best of them, my marketing skills are dreadful. I’ve relied mainly on word of mouth, Facebook links, Twitter, and—before 2012 and meeting my wife—ebook advertisers in eReader News Today and Kindle Nation Daily to varying degrees of success. I heard recently that one author got a BookBub ad without the pre-requisite review numbers, and I’m hoping I can do the same this coming year. Also some Facebook ads to encourage mailing list signups, Amazon ads, Twitter ads, and ENT/KND/BookGoodies/etc. I desperately need to re-claim my audience!

We’ll re-evaluate as the year goes on.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cleaning off the desk, 2016 style

Earlier this afternoon, I hit the 100,000-word mark in my current WIP, Persuaded By The Reflections; Persuaded is the follow-up to The Long Crimson Line. Tallying that count up with the first draft count of the forthcoming Jaclyn Johnson novel Ticket Agent, plus the estimated ending of The Peg-Legged Privateer that I wrote in January, I end 2016 with about 218,596 words of fiction written. Rounding it up to a cool 219,000 sounds pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.

Now, with only a few days remaining in the calendar year, I'm taking the time to recharge--in lieu of IBC Root Beer, I'm celebrating the 100K-word plateau with some reading and no fiction until at least January 2.

But in the meantime, it's not bad to look back on what I did this year, and also raise a beer in celebration:

In addition to 219K words written, I published three books. Yup, I released the seventh Jaclyn Johnson novel Chemical Agent, along with the third (and more than likely final) Alex Bourque mystery, Beach Blanket Bloodshed. Not only that, I also re-launched the two other books in that particular series with new cover art, as well as a bundle of those three books.

Earlier this month, The Peg-Legged Privateer launched.

And if you missed it, I had an awesome Plastic City Comic Con back in July. I've also had Jaclyn Johnson optioned for TV and film.

To say that I hit writing and publishing goals is an understatement. When I plot out my goals, I work my ass off to hit them. That has been my mantra since I started writing. I had a good year.

Sales goals, of course, is a different story. I took a loss this year, and I'll be re-assessing my sales goals--or deciding whether or not having them is a good thing to begin with--within the coming days.

I'll be sure to let you all know as the business plan comes into clearer focus--2017 is on the horizon.